Date Approved

12-21-2020

Embargo Period

1-4-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. Mechanical Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

College

Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering

First Advisor

Bakrania, Smitesh

Second Advisor

Haas, Francis M.

Third Advisor

Xue, Wei

Keywords

catalytic combustion, microcombustion, microreactor, nanocatalytic, nanoparticle, thermoelectric

Subject(s)

Energy conversion; Thermoelectric materials

Disciplines

Heat Transfer, Combustion | Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

This work aimed to create a first-generation power device for eventual application to portable electronics. A platinum nanoparticle catalytic substrate was employed in a microcombustion-thermoelectric coupled (MTC) device for the purpose of chemical-to-electrical energy conversion. Multiple microcombustion reactors were designed, fabricated, and investigated. Most importantly, the reactor configuration was designed to accommodate thermoelectric generators (TEGs) for power production. Temperature studies with catalytic combustion of methanol-air fuel mixtures were used to evaluate the thermal power generation performance of each reactor. The final reactor design enabled ignition at room temperature with the ability to achieve repeat catalytic cycles upon subsequent exposure to methanol-air mixtures.

Preliminary performance studies achieved a maximum temperature difference T of 58 degrees C with a fuel mixture flow rate of 800 mL/min. While the temperature difference indicates a respectable potential for power generation, the importance of thermal design was a key finding of this work. It was thought that improved thermal management could make better use of thermal energy lost in the exhaust stream, potentially increasing reactor surface temperatures and corresponding thermoelectric generator parameter T. Thermal design changes would significantly enhance the performance of a later generation of this device, detailed at the close of this thesis.

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