Award Date

12-1-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical Engineering

First Committee Member

Jacob R. Baker

Second Committee Member

Yahia Baghzouz

Third Committee Member

Robert F. Boehm

Fourth Committee Member

Rama Venkat

Number of Pages

209

Abstract

New alternatives and inventive renewable energy techniques which encompass both generation and power management solutions are fundamental for meeting remote residential energy supply and demand today, especially if the grid is quasi-inexistent. Solar thermoelectric generators can be a cost-effective alternative to photovoltaics for a remote residential household power supply. A complete solar thermoelectric energy harvesting system is presented for energy delivery to remote residential areas in developing regions. To this end, the entire system was built, modeled, and then validated with LTspice simulator software via thermal-to-electrical analogy schemes. Valuable data in conjunction with two novel LTspice circuits were obtained, showing the achievability of analyzing transient heat transfer with the Spice simulator. Hence, the proposed study begins with a comprehensive method of extracting thermal parameters that appear in thermoelectric modules. A step-by-step procedure was developed and followed to succinctly extract parameters, such as the Seebeck coefficient, electrical conductivity, thermal resistance, and thermal conductivity needed to model the system. Data extracted from datasheet, material properties, and geometries were successfully utilized to compute the thermal capacities and resistances necessary to perform the analogy. In addition, temperature variations of the intrinsic internal parameters were accounted for in this process for accuracy purposes. The steps that it takes to simulate any thermo-electrical system with the LTspice simulator are thoroughly explained in this work. As a consequence, an improved Spice model for a thermoelectric generator is proposed. Experimental results were compiled in the form of a lookup table and then fed into the Spice simulator using the piecewise linear (PWL) command in order to validate the model. Experimental results show that a temperature differential of 13.43°C was achievable whereas the simulation indicates a temperature gap of 9.86°C, with the higher error being associated with the hot side. Also, since the analytical method of transient heat transfer analysis is cumbersome, an LTspice model of a real-world solar thermoelectric generation system was investigated. All the physical parameters were converted into their electrical equivalences through the thermal-to-electrical analogy. Real site direct normal insolation was fed into the Spice model via PWL in order to capture the true system’s thermal behavior. Interestingly, two distinct analogies result from this study: 1) an RC analogy and 2) another analogy similar to an N-type doped semiconductor material’s carrier density dependence with temperature. The RC analogy is derived in order to demonstrate how thermoelectric generation systems respond to square wave-like solar radiation. This analogy is utilized to measure temperature variations on the cold side of the Spice model; it shows 80% accuracy. The N-type analogy is intended to help analyze the actual performance of a LTC3105 converter. However a few of the problems to be solved remain at the practical level. Despite the unusual operation of the thermoelectric modules with the solar radiation, the measurements and simulation were in good agreement, thus validating the new thermal modeling strategy.

Keywords

DC-DC Converter; Developing Regions; LTspice Modeling; renewable Energy; Thermal-to-Electrical Analogy; Transient Heat Transfer Analysis

Disciplines

Electrical and Computer Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Oil, Gas, and Energy

Language

English


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