Converting Energy from Reclaimed Heat: Thermal Electric Generator

EPA Grant Number: SU833164
Title: Converting Energy from Reclaimed Heat: Thermal Electric Generator
Investigators: Baur, Stuart W.
Current Investigators: Baur, Stuart W. , Bartz, Navarre
Institution: University of Missouri - Rolla
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2006 through May 1, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The use of solar energy acquiring devices has been slow to gain acceptance due to their overall low power generation versus high cost of a solar system. The goal of this project is to construct a model which increases the overall power generation of a solar building system by efficiently capturing heat loss and converting this loss to energy. Three heat loss recapturing tests are proposed using the Peltier system to reclaim heat energy. The Peltier system works by bridging areas of the greatest temperature differences and, thereby, producing an electric current. In this proposal we will model heat loss reclamation by testing air to air, air to liquid, and liquid to liquid. In developing this model we will show that the recaptured heat in these three models will significantly improve the overall energy efficiency of the building solar system. First, the air to air involves adding the Peltier systems on the underside of the SunBall™ where there is the greatest difference in temperature. Second, the air to liquid model involves adding the Peltier systems to the piping in the thermal roofing system on the glycol mix exiting the manifold of the Thermomax or prior to the heated glycol entering the hot water tank. Third, liquid to liquid involves adding the Peltier systems to the inside of a modified hot water heater with separate chambers for different water temperatures. This research applies principles of thermal and electric active solar systems and solar heat recovery units and the overall efficiency allowing for heat recovery percentages to be calculated within the air to air, air to liquid, liquid to liquid models. These models will include use of the SunBall™, which is an ultra-efficient solar array that improves the efficiency of solar cells by using Fresnel lenses on the surface focusing the suns rays on several high efficiency photovoltaic cells inside the ball, a solar roofing system which is a solar/thermal system using Thermomax system in providing hot water for a home, and a modified water heater which creates temperature differences allowing use of the Peltier system. It is expected that all areas of heat recovery will demonstrate a greater efficiency value than without the heat recovery systems in place; however, the models will assist in determining the most efficient uses and will provide baseline data for future tests from systems modified based on this data. The information gathered from this research will be used to optimize the system for application to the 2007 University of Missouri - Rolla’s solar house entry in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The obvious benefit of implementing the most efficient systems would be the overall increase in energy generated and the decrease on the negative impact on the environment resulting with the improvement in human living conditions.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

innovative technology, renewable, engineering, modeling, monitoring, Midwest, building systems, building industry,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable development, clean technologies, environmental sustainability, ecological design, energy efficiency, solar energy, photovoltaics, heat loss recapturing

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report