TPVs for Waste Heat Recovery in Energy Resilient Manufacturing

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

An efficient, practical and cost-effective means for directly converting heat into electricity is a very appealing concept. In principle, thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) cells could form the critical component of various systems for generating electricity from different types of heat sources including combustion processes, concentrated sunlight, waste process heat, and radio isotopes. This opens up a wide variety of possibilities for technology uptake and so TPV systems can be envisaged for use in applications ranging from small power supplies to replace batteries, to large scale co-generation of electricity.
However, existing TPV cells are based on GaSb and are spectrally matched to heat sources at temperatures of ~1800 oC which limits their practical implementation and widespread uptake. In this project we shall build on existing UK based world class III-V semiconductor materials expertise to fabricate novel low bandgap TPV arrays on inexpensive GaAs substrates, capable of efficient electricity generation from thermal waste heat sources in the range 500-1000 0C commonly encountered in industrial processes. The project will demonstrate the next step towards fabrication of large area TPV arrays essential for the commercial viability of TPV heat recovery, and will enable their widespread implementation in a wide range of high energy consumption industries such as glass, steel and cement manufacture, oil/gas and energy generation.

Planned Impact

We shall enable the development of efficient, affordable thermophotovoltaic (TPV) arrays for electricity generation from radiant waste heat resulting in major energy savings and reduction in CO2 emissions. We shall build on existing UK based world class III-V semiconductor materials expertise to develop metamorphic bufffer layers on inexpensive GaAs substrates to facilitate monolithic low bandgap TPV arrays, capable of efficient electricity generation from thermal waste heat sources in the range 500-1000 0C commonly encountered in industrial processes.
The project will demonstrate the next step towards fabrication of large area TPV arrays essential for the commercial viability of TPV heat recovery, and will enable their widespread implementation in a wide range of high energy consumption industries such as glass, steel and cement manufacture. We also envisage wide-ranging impacts through; enabling development of new products and procedures that will generate major socio-economic benefits for the UK; scientific advancement leading to substantial generation of new knowledge as well as effective training and professional development of researchers.

After validation and appropriate IP protection we envisage that IQE together with CST would develop pilot production; since IQE has substantial epitaxy facilities and together with CST would be able to directly address the challenges in scaling up the existing technology from our initial proof of concept through the fabrication of small scale (25cm x 25cm) monolithic arrays, before moving towards larger array panels to realize the efficient and cost effective conversion of radiant heat into electricity. Tata and Pilkington would become the primary adopters of the technology. This will stimulate a valuable new energy technology for the future which will have a significant impact on utilisation of waste heat in process industries.

More widely, TPV cells could form the critical component of various systems for generating electricity from different types of heat sources including combustion processes, concentrated sunlight, waste process heat, and radio isotopes. This opens up a wide variety of possibilities for technology uptake and so TPV systems can be envisaged for use in applications ranging from small power supplies to replace batteries, to large scale co-generation of electricity.

Publications

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Krier A (2015) Low bandgap mid-infrared thermophotovoltaic arrays based on InAs in Infrared Physics & Technology

 
Description We have developed a metamorphic buffer layer for the growth of InAs on GaAs. This will enable the fabrication of TPV and other structures based on InAs to be grown on a less expensive GaAs substrate instead. This is an important step towards future viability of InAs based devices. This approach can also be further developed to growth of other TPV cells, in particular GaInAsSb on GaAs.
Exploitation Route We have collaboration with appropriate industrial partners who will be involved in validating the resulting TPV elements based on our metamorphic buffer layers.
Together with colleagues in Beijing we found that the "dead region" in n-GaInAsSb diffused TPV cells can be suppressed when using Zn-Ga alloy sources; so that the GaInAsSb TPV cells can be subsequently fabricated without the need for precise etching, hence improving their manufacturability.
Sectors Electronics,Energy

 
Description The results obtained from testing of our InAs based TPV cells in Pilkington and at Tata Steel industrial sites have been used to inform their renewable energy requirements in respect of energy scavenging
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Energy Resilient Manufacturing 2: Enabling Practical TPVs for Waste Heat Recovery
Amount £608,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P012035/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2020