Case 14212

A High Efficiency Micro-Thermophotovoltaic Generator System

Keywords:

Micro-thermophotovoltaic generator, TPV systems, fuel cells, power source, solar thermal power

Applications:

Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems

Problem:
  • Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems generally exhibit extremely low power conversion efficiencies -- on the order of 1% or less -- mostly due to thermal emission of undesirable mid-wavelength infrared photons.
  • The design of photonic crystals which have the potential to strongly suppress these losses is complex and generally present a non-convex design optimization problem.

Technology:

Solving the above problems requires efficient objective function evaluation as well as efficient global optimization algorithms. In this invention, both requirements are met in order to design two new systems: micro-TPV generators and solar thermal TPV systems. A power electronics architecture is also demonstrated which is suitable for TPV power generation. Low-power sensing techniques is incorporated and high power conversion efficiency and small size is achieved. A tracking efficiency above 99% is demonstrated. This invention also demonstrates a micro-TPV system generating 150 mW with the MPPT converter.

Advantages:
  • Micro-TPV reactors see up to a 27-fold increase in their efficiency and power output
  • Solar thermal TPV systems see up to a 45-fold increase in their efficiency to exceed the Shockley-Quiesser limit for a single-junction photovoltaic cell.
  • The invention paves the way towards a fully integrated, fully functional micro-scale TPV power generator.

Inventors:
  • Professor John D. Joannopoulos (Department of Physics, MIT)
  • Professor Klavs F. Jensen (Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT)
  • Professor Steven Glenn Johnson (Department of Applied Mathematics, MIT)
  • Professor Marin Soljačić (Department of Physics, MIT)
  • Professor Peter H. Fisher (Department of Physics, MIT)
  • Peter Bermel (Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT)
  • Ivan Celanovic (Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies, MIT)
  • Robert Pilawa-Podgurski (Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT)
  • Michael Ghebrebrhan (Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT)
  • Walker Chan (Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT)
  • Adrian YX. Yeng (Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, MIT)
  • Christopher H. Marton (Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT)
  • Mohammand Araghchini (Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, MIT)

Intellectual Property:

US Patent Application Number 13/112831, filed on May 20, 2011

Publications:

The Economist: Building a better suntrap- A novel approach to solar power may help to improve its efficiency (1/11/2012)

Related Cases:

14368: Angular Photonic Band Gap

15281: Thermally Stable Nano Structure for Selective Emitter

Last revised: April 30, 2013

»List of MIT Energy IP«