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An Overview of Various Thermal Electric Systems

On Feb. 16, 2008, Daniel Bowers <itopea2012 {at} yahoo.com> wrote:

Sterling,

I have been researching the nanotechnology solid state thermal energy converters.

Power Chips will deliver up to 70-80% of the maximum (Carnot) theoretical efficiency for heat pumps.

Idaho National Laboratories have successfully demonstrated their nanofilm technology to produce energy but it generates energy at ten thousand billion times a second and can not be captured.

Other companies have not even gotten to this point and I think they will discover they can not capture the energy.

Charles M Brown's chip would produce ~100 watts per square centimeter vs. the MEMS- TAR which can only achieve 10 watts per cubic centimeter.

Do you think there is a place for the MEMS- TAR chips?

Other Nanotechnologies are under development and can achieve theoretical higher efficiencies. The MEMS chip can achieve up to 63% of the maximum carnot efficiency. I talked to Lee Fellows the other day for about 30 minutes. He said that he has some cool stuff. If you would do a radio interview with Lee Fellows that would be really cool. I think the guy has gotten the shaft for his work over the years.

I have not seen any other low thermal energy technologies other than the Matteran system. People keep thinking that consumers want mechanical systems in their homes. People buy solar panels because they are hassle free. You put it on the roof and as long as the sun keeps shining you dont have to worry about it.

My friend does commercial solar consultation and he pointed out something very simple. Moving parts break! Double axis solar concentrators for homes and all of these commercial systems like Sol3G, Greenvolts, Pyron, Whitfield, etc. Where each row moves, all it takes is some small piece of sand or pigeon droppings, even atmospheric particulates built up over time, one little thing to get into one of those joints where the axle is and then the whole system is crapped out.

To me the solar insolation factor is not as important as reliability. Look at the Amonix system, that is a good design. Simple modular construction, two actuators. Emcore is the other system but their design does not utilize the full potential of the tower where the center is open, there is solar insolation but no cells. I talked to the representative about that and they said that they were putting cells there but why wouldnt they do it in the first place. Take the Amonix setup and install the tripple junction cells and you have a good efficient and reliable system. Of course Amonix was not interested and they never returned my calls or emails.

My favorite solar Tripple Junction small scale unit is by far the Sun Cube.

Look at the Energy Innovation Sunflower they have a silicon PV cell on the module to power the tracking device. What does that tell you? They did not follow through with their original design and compensated with a poorly designed system which by appearance will not withstand the tests of time.

There are real inventors out there who know what they are doing and then there are those just trying to make a buck. I would really like to see that gap grow in the coming years. It is just like the .com boom but for cheap energy.

Lee Fellows believes that in time his technology will become a solid state device, but they are not yet. He is using a magnetohydrodynamic linear alternator in the thermoacoustic cycle generator which is not solid state.

Matteran energy has their rankine cycle low thermal energy combined cycle system, on their page it talks about temperatures of 160* F at 200' depth. This is what I was talking about the other day when I was thinking about a closed loop Ammonia system until I realized that the Thermoacoustic device could be placed in the ground itself.

Although the thermoacoustic device will not be operating at 40% efficiency at these temperatures they are cheap enough that several modules could be placed in the ground to give reliable 24/7 energy with only one moving part per unit. System redundancy is always good anyway.

By the way, the Eneco chip will only operate at a maximum of 30% efficiency and should not be #2 in the top 100.

I like the SCORE device except for the fact that they dont talk about using micro-gasification or solar.

The nano-technology solid state systems to me don't seem like something for the third world. The thermoacoustic systems are here now and we are not utilizing their potential.

Thermoacoustic heating/ cooling: http://www.coolsound.us/

Refrigeration: http://www.thermoacousticscorp.com/

Q Drive received second round Small Business Innovation Grant http://www.cficinc.com/index.php?id=64&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=22&tx_ttnews[backPid]=34&cHash=400fb81e0e

I truly see the potential for all of the energy and controlled environmental needs without pollution in the Thermoacoustic systems.

AC/ Heat, Electricity, refrigeration and all without environmentally damaging chemicals like frion, PCB's or whatever.

On Peswiki the Thermal Acoustic Resonator is under thermal electric- solid state. It should be under "acoustic" and it is not a solid state energy device because there is one moving part.

I think "acoustics" should be "thermoacoustics" or "thermal acoustics" in peswiki. I dont see anything other than thermoacoustic systems in the acoustics section. They all require heat.

Thermoacoustic Air Conditioning could substantially reduce power needs on a commercial scale across the globe in an economical manner. The level of efficiency which Cool Sound Industries claims is that their systems will reduce your electric bill by 80%.

Knowing that half of our electricity is used for environmental control this single technology could reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% in an economically viable manner.

In co-gen fuel cell applications, heat could be directly converted into cold combined with thermal energy storage systems for off peak energy storage.

There are hundreds of applications, especially with reducing the capitalization of fuel cells in a hydrogen economy. Increasing power generation capabilities without significant modifications to facilities, biomedical applications, etc.

- - - -

Thermoacoustic engines are cheaper than Stirling engines, almost as efficient, cheaper to manufacture, and more reliable.

Eneco chips are less efficient than thermoacoustics.

I could build 10 thermoacoustic solar towers for the price of one stirling parabolic setup.

The Q drive was recently featured on the Science Channel representing refrigeration. Thermoacoustics are reliable, cheap, reproducible. .37 cents per watt for solar panels but we could reduce that by going with concentration.

Not to mention that the thermoacoustic chips will eventually be solid state and then nano scale. 60 cycle generation which is viable now.

The advent of retrofitting power plants.

Johnson's system uses hydrogen under heat and pressure, why not add some oxygen to complete the cycle?! If one of the seals blows out now you have a bomb. Safety is always an issue. I am not going to risk the safety of my workers to get a little more juice out of a generator.


Another accomplishment which should be looked at is the Centia catalytic conversion process to make biojet fuel with a biochemical platform.

Aviation consumes 73% of all fuel. http://www.diversified-energy.com/index.cfm?s_webAction=centia

All of the other jet fuels like Synfuel Corporation are from gasification.

If Diversified Energy and Velocys come through with their military system the only thing which would make their system better is non thermal plasma assistance.

The microchannel catalytic conversion process from Velocys is the best thing that happened to synthetic fuels in 50 years. When combined with modular gasification the capitalization costs are greatly reduced which will open up one of the largest renewable resources in the world. Garbage! Modular decentralized biowaste conversion is up there on my list.

Los Alamos' technology transfer division has a non thermal dielectric barrier discharge device up for grabs.

Los Alamos also has a thermoacoustic multiphase generator available.

- - - -

On Feb. 14, 2008, Daniel Bowers <itopea2012 {at} yahoo.com> wrote:

Cool Chips use thermionic technology to deliver up to a projected 55% of the maximum (Carnot) theoretical efficiency for heat pumps. Conventional refrigerators operate at up to 45% efficiency and current thermoelectric systems (Peltier Effect) operate at 5-8% efficiency.

MEMS- TAR business plan: These devices convert 63% of the Carnot energy in a heat source such as solar energy or waste heat from engine exhaust into alternating current electricity.

Seebeck effect- The voltage created is of the order of several microvolts per degree difference. (Limited power capability per module)

Thermionic emission- caused by thermal vibrational energy overcoming the electrostatic forces restraining the charge carriers.

The magnitude of the charge flow increases dramatically with increasing temperature and for vacuum emission from metals tends to only become significant for temperatures over 1000 K. The science dealing with this phenomenon is thermionics.

Thermotunnel cooling is similar to thermionic emission cooling in that fast moving electrons carry heat across a gap but cannot return due to a voltage difference. The problem with using thermal electrons to carry heat is the fact that, due to the high work function of metals, which are the only practical emitters, the lowest cooling temperate is around 600 °C - clearly not useful except in the most unusual applications

Johnson Mechanical engine uses expensive materials and costs around $8 per watt.

Eneco - For refrigeration applications smaller than about 200W, Thermal Chips are more efficient than any other known technology, positioning ENECO as the technology vendor of choice for small area/small volume high value micro/optoelectronics, portable, mobile and small-scale applications.

Peltier devices are mostly used for cooling. However, when a single device is to be used for both heating and cooling, a Peltier device may be desirable.

One of the things which are covered with peltier device is metals in the chip which can lead to charge carrier diffusion. Metal conducts heat, as the metal heats up it loses its efficiency therefore it would be necessary to use an alternate device to cool the chip.

In the presentation by the Fellows Group it mentions the ability to use metals. I see the potential barrier of converting the heat into sound as making a more reliable system.

Eventually the MEMS chip will have no moving parts just like the ENECO chip. The next question is the cost of the materials and the complexity of the chip.

The only real difference is one is in a vacuum and the other is pressurized. Another question I have is:

How much of an effect does being able to put a gaseous mass into the device vs. the vacuum contibute to the transfer of waves. Part of me is thinking sound waves can not travel in space and that atmopheric resonance is increased by the presence of matter. In the description of the thermoacoustic technology they compare it to the effect of lightning in the air.

(Side note- went off on tangent after reviewing email:
I wonder if it is possible to take heat and convert it into microwaves and RF? I think that is what Tesla discovered!
It seems that most of these thermodynamic devices work both ways. Put in heat get out electricity, put in electricity and get heat, or cold/ energy, energy/ cold. Think about a generator. It you spin it it makes electricity. If you put electricity into it it moves.
Solid state electromagnetic generator makes sense to me now. The planet has its own magnetic resonance frequency. It now seems so simple to me!)

Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System uses hydrogen under pressure. The hydrogen must pass through a type of electrolysis membrane which in most cases are coated with platinum. This makes the Johnson device more efficient but expensive and potentially explosive.

Where I am at with the thermoacoustics-

Multiple applications - heating/ cooling/ power generation/

Not limited in size of power generation system/ potential commercial megawatt systems.

Cheaper componentry, modular fabrication using exsiting industrial equipment.

High efficiency, reliable,

low thermal applications- biomedical, consumer electronics

NASA is designing a thermoacoustic system for space vehicles. Why not thermionic devices?

I entered into this analysis in a neutral position to verify the potential investment in the technology. As I see it right now, there is a strong place in the market for thermoacoustic chips/ generators and it is a viable investment opportunity.

The coupling of the thermoacoustic devices with tripple junction solar PV cells will yield a 70% or greater energy output with 1 moving part. No issues of permitting and the systems can be scaled economically from residential to centralized/ distributed power.

Solar insolation/generation for a given area would be in the order of 1Kw per sq meter.

- - - -

On Feb. 13, 2008, Daniel Bowers <itopea2012 {at} yahoo.com> wrote:

I am looking at the Fellows Group Thermoacoustic Generator with the Thermoacoustic resonator and piezoelectric linear generator.

I was thinking to use a closed loop ammonia system, but after looking at the Fellows unit, I imagine simply putting the thing in the ground.

The thermoacoustic system is being researched by NASA for the satellites.

It is simple and reliable. If it is good enough for NASA everyone should have one.

The numbers for the Fellows micro energy devices is around .37 cents per watt to manufacture based on their estimates.

.37 cents per watt for a solar array which has up to 40% effiiciency has a good place in the market for 10 years or more.

A cell phone which was powered from the heat in your hand?! Never have to charge it! Put it on the dash when you are driving and dont worry about it.

I cant even begin to think of the applications.

Their module will convert energy at around 12% efficiency beginning at 90*. How far down would we have to drill a hole to get that type of temperature? 1000' 2000' I would drill a hole in the ground if it meant that I never had to pay an electric bill ever again. You could even combine a heating system in the same shaft. Geothermal Thermoelectric Cogen! Throw in a thermoelectric solar concentrator and a Maagen Wind Turbine with a Nickel Iron battery storage system and you are good.

The beauty of the thermoacoustic device for refrigeration, heating, cooling, solar energy, geothermal, one technology- multiple applications, ZERO emissions.

Mass production for multiple applications is always a good thing. General Motors uses the same engines in the Cadillacs as they do in the Chevrolets.

I have been communicating with Sir Charles Shults. We were discussing the Johnson Direct thermal energy device and he told me that the costs were around $8.00 per watt.

His turbine system may not get wide acceptance due to the mechanics of the system. Take the fresnel lense and combine it with the thermoacoustic device. Now we are talking about cheap reliable solar.

The Stirling Solar energy system is achieving around 49% which they dont advertise but the maintenance and capitalization has to be a lot I am sure. Notice, you will not find the numbers for the Stirling Solar system anywhere.

Another solar system to look at is the CO2 to fuel technology from Los Alamos Renewable Energy, LLC. SOLAREC

The Syntrolysis system from Idaho Labs.

All of these CO2 to fuel systems which are coming around. The Gliding Arc Tornado Plasma Reactor is highly suited for that application.

I have had to make an economic assessment as to the amount of CO2 which can be directly converted into fuel with energy or going through the entire process of cultivating algae and then converting it.

Keep an eye out for [[thermoacoustic geothermal generators!

Geo-Thermal / Thermal Acoustic energy

On Feb. 13, 2008, Daniel Bowers <itopea2012 {at} yahoo.com> wrote:

Couldn't we apply the concept for Oceanic Thermal Energy Conversion to Geothermal?

A closed system with vapor turbines using geothermal heat to expand ammonia.

The thermal gradient between a mile down and a few feet should be enough to expand and condense ammonia to drive turbines.

One of the issues which has faced geothermal energy is due to increased geological activity. This would not be an issue if it were a closed system. It is really quite simple. You drill a hole and install a double insulated pipe. Liquid ammonia would pass down the inner core where a heat exchange type element would be at the base. Once the liquid ammonia reached the bottom of the module it would expand the liquid into gas. The trick would be the expansion node at the base and keeping the ammonia as a vapor to get back to the turbine on the surface.

Theoretically, we could have limitless power anywhere without pollution or risk of increased geological activity just by drilling a hole.

Part of me is thinking we could use thermal acoustics!

I don't know if I would [use] thermal acoustics to cool the gas or to capture the energy but I think there is something here.

- - - -

On Feb. 13, 2008, Daniel Bowers <itopea2012 {at} yahoo.com> wrote:

I decided to cut out the ammonia system and just put the [[thermoacoustic generator in the ground as some sort of cogen system with ground source heat pump.

Perhaps a home power station which used a series of the thermoacoustic generators.

This solar system is simple http://www.acs.psu.edu/users/sinclair/thermal/sundrive.html

Fresnel concentrator and a thermoacoustic/ piezoelectric linear generator.

I am looking at the Q Drive and just requested information from them. http://www.cficinc.com/

The way I see it is pretty simple: any company that has developed a device that is highly efficient for refrigeration from electricity, add heat and get electricity.

Fresnel lense is the simplest way to do that. Could make a generator for a few hundred dollars.

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