Developing High-Performance System to Harvest Solar and Thermal Energy

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng, in collaboration with Faraday Technology Inc., received a $150k research grant from the U.S. Air Force to create “Concentric Ultra-Dark Solar-Thermal Absorber and Metasurface Thermal Emitter for Thermophotovoltaic Power Conversion.”

Abstract: The radiative thermal balance of spacecrafts in a space environment is dominated by solar and thermal radiation. Effective controlling and unitizing the solar absorption and thermal emission properties of cost-effective functional materials will facilitate the thermal balance and enhance the power generation capacity of spacecrafts under extreme conditions, and thus provide advantages for durable spacecraft operation and future space mission success. This project aims to develop an energy harvesting system consisting of a concentric carbon nanotube (CNT) based ultra-dark solar-thermal radiation absorber/metasurface thermal emitter coupled with a thermophotovoltaic cell, which enables simultaneous harvesting of incoming solar and outgoing thermal radiation from both spacecraft and Earth in a space environment to generate useful work such as electricity. The goal is to optimize the fabrication process of CNT based absorber/metasurface thermal emitter to develop a high-performance device for spacecrafts harvesting solar and thermal energy with power generation capacity that meets Air Force’s needs.

Related Departments:Mechanical & Industrial Engineering