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Detailed Syllabus

C-319 Introduction to Energy Conversion Materials and Technology

With the high price of fossil fuels, there is a renewed emphasis on energy conservation and development of alternative energy resources and systems. As a result, there is renewed emphasis on low cost energy conversion materials. Many of these systems were initially developed for space power sources. Fuel cells (including PEM, solid oxide and thin film) convert hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels to electrical power and are being developed as an alternate power source for automobile engines. Thermoelectric power generation systems are being developed to recover energy from industrial and vehicle waste heat sources. Semiconductor photovoltaics have been around with us for a long time and harvests light from the sun and thermophotovoltaics converts photons from heat sources to useable energy. Organic photovoltaics are just starting to achieve respectable efficiencies and can be made over large areas. Thermionics converts electrons from a hot body into electricity. Nuclear reactions (beta decay) are used as the heat source for thermoelectric power generation. Thin film batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy. Most of these energy conversion systems are utilized by the space program but have experienced recent significant improvements in performance. They are extremely useful in powering remote sensors and surveillance systems.

 

This tutorial will review several energy conversion technologies and how thin film materials are helping to advance these technologies. These new materials are helping to improve conversion efficiencies. Recent development in organic materials will also be presented.

 

Topical Outline:
  • Semiconductor solar cells
  • Thin film solar cells
  • Graztel cells
  • Organic solar cells
  • Transparent solar cells
  • Thermophotovoltaics
  • Solar thermal energy
  • Photocatalytic materials
  • Thermoelectric power generation
  • Thermionic power generation
  • PEM fuel cells
  • Solid oxide fuel cells
  • Thin film fuel cells
  • Thin film Li batteries
  • How MEMS is advancing energy systems
  • Space power systems
  • Remote power systems
Course Details:

The objective of this tutorial is to introduce scientists, engineers, technicians, supervisors, business staff, and anyone interested in energy conversation materials and technology.  With the high price of fossil fuels, there is a renewed emphasis on energy conservation and development of alternative energy resources and systems.  As a result, there is renewed emphasis on low cost energy conversion materials.  Many of these systems were initially developed for space power sources.  This tutorial will review several energy conversion technologies and how thin film materials are helping to advance these technologies.  These new materials are helping to improve the conversion of natural resources, sun and wind to energy.  Recent developments in organic materials will also be presented.

This tutorial provides the participant with the basics and an introduction to the following topics:

Semiconductor photovoltaics:  Semiconductor photovoltaics (solar cells) have been around with us for a long time.  PV’s harvest light from the sun and convert it to electrical power.  Thermophotovoltaic devices convert photons from heat sources to useable energy.  The basics of solar cell materials, operation and design will be explored, with a focus on silicon, p-n, heterojunction and gallium arsenide solar cells.

Thin film solar cells:  Thin film materials for solar cell applications have been developed for the past thirty years.  The most widely developed structures are amorphous silicon (a-Si), CuInSe2 and its alloys, CdTe, CdS, GaAs, and hybrid thin film/crystalline cells.  Multi-layer (multijunction) thin films have even achieved efficiencies above those of bulk silicon wafers.  The benefits and disadvantages of thin film solar cells will also be discussed in detail. 

Alternate photovoltaic technologies:   This topic includes advanced designs, organic cells, Gratzel cells, and transparent photovoltaics.

Thermoelectric power generation and cooling: Thermoelectric power generation systems are being developed to recover electrical energy from industrial and vehicle waste heat sources.  Basics of thermoelectric power generation will be presented and the new materials and device designs that are increasing the conversion efficiency of heat to electricity. 

Solar thermal and solar concentrator systems:  Solar thermal systems convert light energy to heat energy.  The most basic of these systems is hot water generation.  Concentration increases the efficiency of the system.  The basics of solar thermal heating systems and concentrator design will be presented.

Fuel cells:  Fuel cells (including PEM, solid oxide and thin film) convert hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels to electrical power and are being developed as an alternate power source for automobile engines.   The basics of fuel cell operation, materials and design will be presented.  Emphasis will be placed on PEM and thin film fuel cell status, and how the hydrogen economy fits into this technology.

Wind energy:  Conversion of wind energy to electrical energy involves electrical turbines and is the lowest tech process of all topics covered by this tutorial.  

Thin film batteries:  Thin film batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy.  Thin film Li-ion and Li polymer batteries are being developed as power sources for electronics and remote sensing applications. 

Space power systems:  Most of these energy conversion systems are utilized by the space program but have experienced recent significant improvements in performance.  They are extremely useful in powering remote sensors and surveillance systems.  The applications of energy conversion technologies in space systems will be described. 

Remote power systems:  Remote sensing and power systems usually produce low power levels.  The technologies used in these systems will be described.

Economics:  A brief comparison of the economics of the technologies mention above will be made to present power generation technologies.

 

Instructor: Peter Martin, Columbia Basin Thin Film Solutions LLC
Peter Martin

worked at Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNNL) for over 29 years where he currently holds an Emeritus Laboratory Fellow appointment At PNNL he developed thin film coatings for energy, biomedical, space and defense applications. He is currently President of Columbia Basin Thin Film Solutions LLC and recent Past President of SVC.   He has written over 400 technical publications, three R&D 100 Awards, two Federal Laboratory Consortium awards, and voted Battelle 2005 Inventor of the Year.  He has over thirty US patents, and teaches short courses on Smart Materials and Energy Materials and Applications.


This course is currently available via:
On Location Education Program

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