Sodium thermal electrochemical converters (Na-TECs) offer a high efficiency advancement for converting thermal energy into electrical energy without moving parts. Since the cell operates using a Na pressure difference between the high temperature evaporator and the lower temperature condenser, a hermetic seal capable of maintaining that pressure difference is essential. This study looked at brazing of the ceramic electrolyte used in these cells, which is a β”-alumina solid-electrolyte referred to as BASE. Since a literature search found no papers pertaining to brazing of BASE, knowledge from ceramic to metal brazing called widegap brazing was used. Specifically, the widegap brazing of α-alumina to nickel-based alloys. Initial brazing trials used a traditional inert atmospheric brazing technique with an Ar-H2 gas mixture. However, the very low pO2 atmosphere resulted in the destruction of the BASE layers due to the diffusion of carbon to the outer surface of the electrolyte during brazing. A new and radically different brazing technique called air brazing was then attempted. This brazing technique proved successful using the brazing alloy Ag-8CuO. Both Ag and Cu are not deleteriously affected by Na corrosion; thus, Ag-8CuO were a good choice for the braze alloy. Leak tests were performed on these cells to establish their hermeticity. This cell structure and brazing technique proved to be successful. Air brazing is an exciting joining operation for these types of cells.

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