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Advanced Soldier-Based Thermoelectric Power Systems Using Battlefield Heat Sources

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2011

Terry J. Hendricks
Affiliation:, Battelle Memorial Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Corvallis, Oregon, United States
Naveen K. Karri
Affiliation:, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, United States
Tim P. Hogan
Affiliation:, Michigan State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering, East Lansing, Michigan, United States
Jonathan D'Angelo
Affiliation:, Michigan State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering, East Lansing, Michigan, United States
Chun-I Wu
Affiliation:, Michigan State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2120 Engineering Building, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824, United States
Eldon D. Case
Affiliation:, Michigan State University, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, East Lansing, Michigan, United States
Fei Ren
Affiliation:, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States
Andrew Q. Morrison
Affiliation:, Michigan State University, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, East Lansing, Michigan, United States
Charles J. Cauchy
Affiliation:, Tellurex Corporation, Traverse City, Michigan, United States
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The U.S. military uses large amounts of fuel during deployments and battlefield operations. Consequently, the U.S. military has a strong need to develop technologies that increase fuel efficiency and minimize fuel requirements all along the logistics trail and in all battlefield operations. There are additional requirements to reduce and minimize the environmental footprint of various military equipment and operations and reduce the need for batteries (non-rechargeable) in battlefield operations. The tri-agency SERDP (Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program) office is sponsoring a challenging, high-payoff project to develop a lightweight, small form-factor, soldier-portable advanced thermoelectric generator (TEG) system prototype to recover and convert waste heat from a variety of deployed equipment with the ultimate purpose of obtaining additional power for soldier battery charging, advanced capacitor charging, and other battlefield power applications. The project seeks to achieve power conversion efficiencies of 10% (double current commercial TE conversion efficiencies) in a system with ˜1.6-kW power output for a spectrum of battlefield power applications. In order to meet this objective, the project is taking on the multi-faceted challenges of tailoring LAST/LASTT-based thermoelectric (TE) materials for the proper temperature ranges (300 K – 700 K), fabricating these materials with cost-effective hot-pressed and sintered processes while maintaining their TE properties, measuring and characterizing their thermal fatigue and structural properties, developing the proper manufacturing processes for the TE materials and modules, designing and fabricating the necessary microtechnology heat exchangers, and fabricating and testing the final TEG system. The ultimate goal is to provide an opportunity to deploy these TEG systems in a wide variety of current military equipment. This would help the Army in achieving one of the Office of Secretary of Defense’s major strategic objectives to maintain and enhance operational effectiveness while reducing total force energy demands. The presentation will review the progress made on 1) the performance of LAST / LASTT TE materials and tailoring their temperature dependency; 2) evaluating the structural (Elastic modulus, Poisson’s ratio and mechanical strength) properties of these materials, 3) development of the necessary LAST/LASTT-based TE modules, 4) development of the required hot- and cold-side microtechnology heat exchangers, and 5) the overall system designs for 30 kW and 60 kW TQG applications and potential performance pathways/differences for these two TQG cases. This work leverages critical fundamental research performed by the Office of Naval Research in developing LAST/LASTT materials.

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2010

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