25 August 2017 Graphene for thermoelectronic solar energy conversion
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Abstract
Graphene is a high temperature material which can stand temperature as high as 4600 K in vacuum. Even though its work function is high (4.6 eV) the thermionic emission current density at such temperature is very high. Graphene is a wonderful material whose work function can be engineered as desired. Kwon et al41 reported a chemical approach to reduce work function of graphene using K2CO3, Li2CO3, Rb2CO3, Cs2CO3. The work functions are reported to be 3.7 eV, 3.8 eV, 3.5 eV and 3.4 eV. Even though they did not report the high temperature tolerance of such alkali metal carbonate doped graphene, their works open a great promise for use of pure graphene and doped graphene as emitter (cathode) and collector (anode) in a solar thermionic energy converter. This paper discusses the dynamics of solar energy conversion to electrical energy using thermionic energy converter with graphene as emitter and collector. We have considered parabolic mirror concentrator to focus solar energy onto the emitter to achieve temperature around 4300 K. Our theoretical calculations and the modelling show that efficiency as high as 55% can easily be achieved if space-charge problem can be reduced and the collector can be cooled to certain proper temperature. We have discussed methods of controlling the associated space-charge problems. Richardson-Dushman equation modified by the authors have been used in this modelling. Such solar energy conversion would reduce the dependence on silicon solar panel and has great potential for future applications.
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Dilip K. De, Dilip K. De, Olawole C. Olukunle, Olawole C. Olukunle, } "Graphene for thermoelectronic solar energy conversion", Proc. SPIE 10368, Next Generation Technologies for Solar Energy Conversion VIII, 103680I (25 August 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2276162; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2276162
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