Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Thermoelectronic Generator

04.12.2013
Highly Efficient New Design, Described in "Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy," Converts Heat and Solar Energy into Electricity

Through a process known as thermionic conversion, heat energy -- such as light from the sun or heat from burned fossil fuels -- can be converted into electricity with very high efficiency.

Because of its promise, researchers have been trying for more than half a century to develop a practical thermionic generator, with little luck. That luck may soon change, thanks to a new design -- dubbed a thermoelectronic generator -- described in AIP Publishing's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE).

Thermionic generators use the temperature difference between a hot and a cold metallic plate to create electricity. "Electrons are evaporated or kicked out by light from the hot plate, then driven to the cold plate, where they condense," explained experimental solid-state physicist Jochen Mannhart of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, the lead author of the JRSE paper. The resulting charge difference between the two plates yields a voltage that, in turn, drives an electric current, "without moving mechanical parts," he said.

Previous models of thermionic generators have proven ineffectual because of what is known as the "space-charge problem," in which the negative charges of the cloud of electrons leaving the hot plate repel other electrons from leaving it too, effectively killing the current. Mannhart, along with his former students Stefan Meir and Cyril Stephanos, and colleague Theodore Geballe of Stanford University, circumvented this problem using an electric field to pull the charge cloud away from the hot plate, which allowed electrons to fly to the cold plate.

"Practical thermionic generators have reached efficiencies of about 10 percent. The theoretical predictions for our thermoelectronic generators reach about 40 percent, although this is theory only," noted Mannhart. "We would be much surprised if there was a commercial application in the marketplace within the next five years, but if companies that are hungry for power recognize the potential of the generators, the development might be faster."

The article, "Highly-Efficient Thermoelectronic Conversion of Solar Energy and Heat into Electric Power" by S. Meir, C. Stephanos, T.H. Geballe, and J. Mannhart appears in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. See: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4817730

Authors on this study are affiliated with Augsburg University in Germany; the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany; and Stanford University.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL
The Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal produced by AIP publishing that covers all areas of renewable and sustainable energy-related fields that apply to the physical science and engineering communities. See: http://jrse.aip.org/

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aip.org

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht New 'tunable' semiconductors will allow better detectors, solar cells
14.04.2014 | Georgia State University

nachricht Multilayer polymers spring into action
11.04.2014 | The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Siemens at the 2014 UIC ERTMS World Conference in Istanbul

01.04.2014 | Event News

AERA Meeting: German and US-American educational researchers in dialogue

28.03.2014 | Event News

WHS Regional Meeting: International experts address health challenges in Latin America

24.03.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Siemens receives fifth order for offshore grid connection by TenneT

15.04.2014 | Press release

NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Ita over the Coral Sea

15.04.2014 | Earth Sciences

Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells

15.04.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>