P14254: Underwater Thermoelectric Power Generation

Problem Definition


Project Summary

An Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) is a completely untethered submersible craft that can be used for a wide array of underwater missions. One example of current UUV technology is the Echo Ranger, which is produced by Boeing. The Echo Ranger has a 28 hour mission time, which Boeing would like to increase significantly. As a means of producing additional power to augment the mission time of their UUV projects Boeing is interested in exploring thermoelectric power generation. Thermoelectrics are semiconductor devices that convert heat flow directly to electricity. Typically, thermoelectrics suffer from poor thermal efficiency, but they are compact and durable, making them useful for remote power applications.

The goal of this project is to demonstrate proof of concept for a new thermoelectric power system suitable for use in a UUV. The power system which is developed should generate a steady amount of power to charge batteries under a range of ambient conditions. Appropriate monitoring systems will be utilized to track performance and ensure that relevant safety measures are met. The system should be of appropriate size and weight and should be contained within a waterproof housing. Testing will be used to demonstrate the achievement of project goals and appropriate documentation will be provided throughout all phases of development.