Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

Marketable, Heat-Harvesting Devices for Greener Energy Solutions

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

In June 2015 Kentucky’s total electricity generation was ~6,881 GWh, of which only 0.64% is from a renewable energy source. It is notable that Kentucky produces more energy than it consumes, taking advantage of the natural resources available like coal firing and hydroelectric power generation. However, our energy output could be further improved by coupling thermoelectric generators with current energy sources that are already in place, with no added impact to the environment. Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) harvest and convert waste heat into electricity. TEGs can be easily integrated with Kentucky’s existing energy harvesting methods. Implementing a TEG could optimize any energy source that requires high temperatures, such as coal refining and firing, without any additional harm to the environment. These devices could grow Kentucky’s technical industry by increasing the green energy output as a state. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is a polymer with many uses ranging from cleaning up crude oil spills, to human joint lubrication, to DNA extractions. In this project, the limits of this polymer’s uses are pressed to next generation energy devices. PDMS possesses ideal qualities for low environmental impact, marketable versions of TEGs because of its physical properties, natural biocompatibility, and low synthetic cost. To increase the electrical conductivity of PDMS, two known conductive components were introduced to the polymer prior to solidifying into micro structured beads by using a fabrication technique developed in our lab. The beads were then adhered onto conductive glass, constructing a material whose conductivity was measured with adhesive electrodes. The electrical conductivity of PDMS by this production method was on the order of 1.8 Siemens per meter at room temperature. The successful transformation of PDMS into an efficient, waste-free thermoelectric device poses many great avenues to aid in energy conservation.

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Marketable, Heat-Harvesting Devices for Greener Energy Solutions

In June 2015 Kentucky’s total electricity generation was ~6,881 GWh, of which only 0.64% is from a renewable energy source. It is notable that Kentucky produces more energy than it consumes, taking advantage of the natural resources available like coal firing and hydroelectric power generation. However, our energy output could be further improved by coupling thermoelectric generators with current energy sources that are already in place, with no added impact to the environment. Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) harvest and convert waste heat into electricity. TEGs can be easily integrated with Kentucky’s existing energy harvesting methods. Implementing a TEG could optimize any energy source that requires high temperatures, such as coal refining and firing, without any additional harm to the environment. These devices could grow Kentucky’s technical industry by increasing the green energy output as a state. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is a polymer with many uses ranging from cleaning up crude oil spills, to human joint lubrication, to DNA extractions. In this project, the limits of this polymer’s uses are pressed to next generation energy devices. PDMS possesses ideal qualities for low environmental impact, marketable versions of TEGs because of its physical properties, natural biocompatibility, and low synthetic cost. To increase the electrical conductivity of PDMS, two known conductive components were introduced to the polymer prior to solidifying into micro structured beads by using a fabrication technique developed in our lab. The beads were then adhered onto conductive glass, constructing a material whose conductivity was measured with adhesive electrodes. The electrical conductivity of PDMS by this production method was on the order of 1.8 Siemens per meter at room temperature. The successful transformation of PDMS into an efficient, waste-free thermoelectric device poses many great avenues to aid in energy conservation.