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17 May 2011 Development of MEMS based pyroelectric thermal energy harvesters
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The efficient conversion of waste thermal energy into electrical energy is of considerable interest due to the huge sources of low-grade thermal energy available in technologically advanced societies. Our group at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing a new type of high efficiency thermal waste heat energy converter that can be used to actively cool electronic devices, concentrated photovoltaic solar cells, computers and large waste heat producing systems, while generating electricity that can be used to power remote monitoring sensor systems, or recycled to provide electrical power. The energy harvester is a temperature cycled pyroelectric thermal-to-electrical energy harvester that can be used to generate electrical energy from thermal waste streams with temperature gradients of only a few degrees. The approach uses a resonantly driven pyroelectric capacitive bimorph cantilever structure that potentially has energy conversion efficiencies several times those of any previously demonstrated pyroelectric or thermoelectric thermal energy harvesters. The goals of this effort are to demonstrate the feasibility of fabricating high conversion efficiency MEMS based pyroelectric energy converters that can be fabricated into scalable arrays using well known microscale fabrication techniques and materials. These fabrication efforts are supported by detailed modeling studies of the pyroelectric energy converter structures to demonstrate the energy conversion efficiencies and electrical energy generation capabilities of these energy converters. This paper reports on the modeling, fabrication and testing of test structures and single element devices that demonstrate the potential of this technology for the development of high efficiency thermal-to-electrical energy harvesters.
© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Scott R. Hunter, Nickolay V. Lavrik, Thirumalesh Bannuru, Salwa Mostafa, Slo Rajic, and Panos G.. Datskos "Development of MEMS based pyroelectric thermal energy harvesters", Proc. SPIE 8035, Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications II, 80350V (17 May 2011);

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