Development and modelling of a thermophotovoltaic system by Giovanni Mattarolo

By Giovanni Mattarolo

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1 Optical system Spectral properties and radiative heat transfer The function of the optical system is to generate, select and transmit the thermal radiation to the cells. In a TPV system, the spectral control is fundamental in order to recover the part of the radiation spectrum that cannot be converted into electric power by the cells and that otherwise would be absorbed as thermal heat, reducing the system efficiency. The selection of the radiation is based on the fact that almost all the real surfaces do not behave as a black body, but they absorb only a part of the incident radiation.

1. Thermoelectric generators Thermoelectric (TE) generators are the most direct competitors of TPV systems since they are based as well on the direct conversion of heat into electric power. This technology seems very attractive for the recovering of heat waste at low temperatures but it is not yet used on a large scale. Like TPV, TE systems do not present moving parts, they are reliable and do not need maintenance. Depending on the temperature difference between cold and hot side, they are able to provide a power output density up to 1 Wcm−2 .

Rare earth oxides have a very high melting point (over 2400 ➦C) and very good spectral properties since they radiate in a relatively narrow band of wavelengths. 8). 8: Monochromatic emissivity of ytterbium oxide and erbium oxide plotted respectively with the λlimit of Si and GaSb cells [Gua72]. stability and low thermal conductivity. Ytterbium (Yb), erbium (Eb), thulium (Tm) and holmium (Ho) oxides are the most commonly used for those applications, depending on the bandgap of the cells. Different techniques have been developed to produce emitters based on these materials.

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