- To understand how thermoelectrics can be used in power generation and how they operate in a large scale system.
- To gain insight into the technical and economic viability of using thermoelectrics for waste heat recovery in industrial settings.
Dresser-Rand is a manufacturer of large-scale turbo machinery used in remote oil, gas and chemical applications around the world. The current source of energy for these machines is usually fuel extracted on location; however, because of the remote location of operation, the need for immediately usable electricity exists. This project is aimed at using thermoelectrics (TE) to recover wasted energy exhaust from Dresser-Rand turbo machinery in the form of usable power. Thermoelectrics will be used to create a scaled prototype, proof-of-concept heat recovery unit to address Dresser-Rand's long term energy needs and help bring RIT to the forefront of this emerging technology.
This project seeds from RIT's desire to develop internal talent with regards to sustainable energy. As an emerging leader of technology, RIT hopes to become familiar with tomorrow's technology and ultimately develop next generation novel materials for use in this new realm of sustainable energy. P08451, Feasibility of Heat Recovery on Large Scale Systems, is the third project in the TE family of projects that began winter 2006 (2006-2). The first project, P07441 Thermo-Electric Module Test Stand, created a test stand and helped build an understanding of this technology through the characterization of commercially available TE modules. The second project, P07442 Thermo-Electric Demo Device, created a test bed to model automotive exhaust for future use in the exploration of TE heat exchangers used in waste heat recovery and power generation.
Introduction to ThermoElectrics
Thermoelectrics are very simple solid state devices with two basic modes of operation. The first mode, based on the Peltier Effect, involves the application of current through the module, absorbing heat from one side of the device and emitting from the other side. The generation of cold and hot faces of the plate makes Peltier devices ideal for heating and cooling applications. Conversely, the Seebeck Effect and second mode of operation can be used for power generation purposes. When a temperature gradient is applied across a TE module an electric current is produced.
TE modules have been available off the shelf since the 1960's but have not been developed much on the materials end because of low efficiencies (~5%). In the last five years, however, attention has been drawn to power generation applications due to advancement in nanostructures and semiconductor materials. These developments are expected to dramatically raise power generation efficiencies associated with the thermoelectric module. Improvements are still being engineered in-lab; however, industry anticipates these higher efficiency modules to become commercially available in the next five to ten years.
Commercially available TE modules have a figure of merit (ZT) around 1 today. Materials with figure of merit of 3 are currently being developed in the lab and are expected to become commercially available in the next five to ten years. Following this trend, efficiencies of TE modules will eventually be competitive with traditional power generation systems available today.
A more detailed overview of thermoelectric devices can be found at the following RIT resource: https://edge.rit.edu/content/P07440/public/Home
This project is a great opportunity for students interested in alternative energy and its applications. Students will gain experience with tomorrow's energy technology as well as perspective on planning for long term solutions in today's industry. Additionally, students will be exposed to Dresser-Rand Corporation, a global power technology company with prospective full-time recruitment opportunities.
Students in the following programs will likely be interested in this project:
- Mechanical Engineering - Students will focus on thermal fluids and heat transfer aspects of thermoelectric system design, including thermal and thermoelectric module resistance modeling, heat exchanger design, CAD work and fabrication of scaled prototype.
- Electrical Engineering - Students are needed for the characterization and interpretation of voltage current relationships of thermoelectric modules. Additionally, students will incorporate sensors into the design to help model system performance.
- Industrial and Systems Engineering - This project poses a unique opportunity for developing a business case on an emerging energy technology. Students will primarily make use of engineering economics to show the viability for the solution. They will also help in data acquisition aspects of the project using LABVIEW.
- Mechanical Engineering, Energy & The Environment Option
- Minor in Sustainable Design
- Project Name
- Feasibility of Energy Recovery from Thermo-Electric Module for Large Scale Systems
- Project Number
- Project Family
- Sustainable Technologies for the Global Marketplace
- Energy & Environment
- Start Term
- End Term
- Faculty Guide
- Dr. Stevens (ME)
- Faculty Consultant
- Dr. James Moon(EE), Dr. Robert Bowman(EE), John Wellin (ME)
- Graduate Teaching Assistant
- Primary Customer
- Dresser Rand Corporation
- Customer contact information
- Dresser Rand Corporation
- Paul Chilcott
- customer firstname.lastname@example.org, 716-375-3866
High Level Project Needs
- Develop an analytical system model that can relate P07441 Auto Exhaust Test Bed and the Dresser Rand VECTRA Gas Turbine.
- Use the model to design, build and test a small scale, modular prototype unit.
- Refine the model using the prototype.
- Use theoretical data to conduct feasibility study for Dresser Rand Vectra Gas Turbine