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Title: Concentrated Solar Thermoelectric Power

The goal of this project is to demonstrate in the lab that solar thermoelectric generators (STEGs) can exceed 10% solar-to-electricity efficiency, and STEGs can be integrated with phase-change materials (PCM) for thermal storage, providing operation beyond daylight hours. This project achieved significant progress in many tasks necessary to achieving the overall project goals. An accurate Themoelectric Generator (TEG) model was developed, which included realistic treatment of contact materials, contact resistances and radiative losses. In terms of fabricating physical TEGs, high performance contact materials for skutterudite TE segments were developed, along with brazing and soldering methods to assemble segmented TEGs. Accurate measurement systems for determining device performance (in addition to just TE material performance) were built for this project and used to characterize our TEGs. From the optical components’ side, a spectrally selective cermet surface was developed with high solar absorptance and low thermal emittance, with thermal stability at high temperature. A measurement technique was also developed to determine absorptance and total hemispherical emittance at high temperature, and was used to characterize the fabricated spectrally selective surfaces. In addition, a novel reflective cavity was designed to reduce radiative absorber losses and achieve high receiver efficiency at low concentration ratios. A prototypemore » cavity demonstrated that large reductions in radiative losses were possible through this technique. For the overall concentrating STEG system, a number of devices were fabricated and tested in a custom built test platform to characterize their efficiency performance. Additionally, testing was performed with integration of PCM thermal storage, and the storage time of the lab scale system was evaluated. Our latest testing results showed a STEG efficiency of 9.6%, indicating promising potential for high performance concentrated STEGs.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. MIT
  2. University of Houston
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
14 SOLAR ENERGY NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems; Concentrated Solar Thermoelectric Power, Sunshot, thermoelectric generators