A Novel High Efficiency Thermal-Electrochemical Device for Hybrid PV/T Systems

Period of Performance: 12/01/2012 - 11/30/2014

$750K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Lynntech, Inc.
COLLEGE STATION, TX 77845
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Texas at Dallas
800 West Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080
Institution POC

Abstract

ABSTRACT: There are a growing number of military (and civilian) applications for unmanned aircraft. To extend their mission capabilities, unmanned aircraft can incorporate solar panels onto their structure to generate electrical energy from the sun. Solar cell efficiency is inversely proportional to the cell s operating temperature. Therefore, thermal management of solar modules is important. Unfortunately, existing methods for removing excess heat from solar modules are considered inadequate. To address this limitation, a revolutionary thermal energy harvesting device has been investigated. The device integrates with a photovoltaic solar cell or panel, and is uniquely able to convert waste heat energy into additional electrical energy. The device requires no moving parts, can be formed into a flexible thin film structure, and generates electrical energy from even small temperature gradients. Laboratory tests resulted in successful electricity production by heat energy harvesting from a single solar cell. Experimentation and computer simulations further identified design parameters needed to maximize performance. During the proposed Phase II we will expand the understanding of the thermal energy harvesting device, addressing issues related to unmanned aircraft design and operation. BENEFIT: The research focuses on a novel energy harvesting device, which converts ambient heat energy into electricity for the purposes of powering multiple products including: military equipment, consumer electronics, medical devices, automotive systems, industrial wireless sensors and more. The market for energy harvesting devices is driven by the unsustainable environmental and economic cost of using replacement batteries. The proposed energy harvesting device has several competitive product advantages, including a unique ability to generate electricity from very small temperature gradients. The initial product focus is on energy harvesting aboard unmanned military aircraft. The market for energy harvesting devices is forecast to be $9 billion by 2015.