Thermophotovoltaic Energy Conversion for Personal Power Sources

Report No. ARL-TR-5942
Authors: C. Mike Waits
Date/Pages: February 2012; 38 pages
Abstract: Advancements in photovoltaic, thermal emission, and compact liquid fueled combustion sources enable thermophotovoltaic energy conversion to compete with battery and fuel technology for compact power applications. This report highlights all components of the thermal-to-electric energy conversion (TEC) system including the balance-of-plant and provides a review of the state of the art. Evaluation of each components performance determined that a 10% efficient thermophotovoltaic power source could be realizable by integrating state-of-the art components. Reduction of the photovoltaic cell bandgap and Auger recombination, combined with emitters using photonic crystals to tailor the emission spectrum and heat recuperation within a combustion-based heat source, can lead to TEC efficiencies greater than 20% with temperatures below 1000 °C. Such a power source could have an energy density reaching 1000 W·h/kg and power densities in the 10's W/kg with a multi-fuel capability offering a tremendous advancement from today's battery technology.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: February 1, 2012