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Proceedings Paper

Review of pyroelectric thermal energy harvesting and new MEMs-based resonant energy conversion techniques
Author(s): Scott R. Hunter; Nickolay V. Lavrik; Salwa Mostafa; Slo Rajic; Panos G. Datskos
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Paper Abstract

Harvesting electrical energy from thermal energy sources using pyroelectric conversion techniques has been under investigation for over 50 years, but it has not received the attention that thermoelectric energy harvesting techniques have during this time period. This lack of interest stems from early studies which found that the energy conversion efficiencies achievable using pyroelectric materials were several times less than those potentially achievable with thermoelectrics. More recent modeling and experimental studies have shown that pyroelectric techniques can be cost competitive with thermoelectrics and, using new temperature cycling techniques, has the potential to be several times as efficient as thermoelectrics under comparable operating conditions. This paper will review the recent history in this field and describe the techniques that are being developed to increase the opportunities for pyroelectric energy harvesting. The development of a new thermal energy harvester concept, based on temperature cycled pyroelectric thermal-to-electrical energy conversion, are also outlined. The approach uses a resonantly driven, pyroelectric capacitive bimorph cantilever structure that can be used to rapidly cycle the temperature in the energy harvester. The device has been modeled using a finite element multi-physics based method, where the effect of the structure material properties and system parameters on the frequency and magnitude of temperature cycling, and the efficiency of energy recycling using the proposed structure, have been modeled. Results show that thermal contact conductance and heat source temperature differences play key roles in dominating the cantilever resonant frequency and efficiency of the energy conversion technique. This paper outlines the modeling, fabrication and testing of cantilever and pyroelectric structures and single element devices that demonstrate the potential of this technology for the development of high efficiency thermal-toelectrical energy conversion devices.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 May 2012
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 8377, Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications III, 83770D (25 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.920978
Show Author Affiliations
Scott R. Hunter, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)
Nickolay V. Lavrik, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)
Salwa Mostafa, The Univ. of Tennessee (United States)
Slo Rajic, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)
Panos G. Datskos, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8377:
Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications III
Nibir K. Dhar; Priyalal S. Wijewarnasuriya; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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