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Research Papers: Energy Systems Analysis

Analytical Study and Experimental Validation of Copper II Sulfate and Potassium Ferri/Ferrocyanide Thermocells Using Onsager Flux Equations

[+] Author and Article Information
Alex M. Bates

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Louisville,
332 Eastern Pkwy,
Louisville, KY 40292
e-mail: eloiamb@gmail.com

Ben Zickel

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Louisville,
332 Eastern Pkwy,
Louisville, KY 40292
e-mail: benjamin.zickel@louisville.edu

Steffen Krebs

Cummins Inc.,
HDCPS Controls,
Columbus, IN 47201
e-mail: Steffen.krebs@cummins.com

Santanu Mukherjee

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Louisville,
332 Eastern Pkwy,
Louisville, KY 40292
e-mail: santanu.mukherjee@louisville.edu

Nicholas D. Schuppert

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Louisville,
332 Eastern Pkwy,
Louisville, KY 40292
e-mail: n0schu02@louisville.edu

Moon Jong Choi

Department of Computer Science and Engineering,
Sun Moon University,
70, Sunmoon-ro 221 Beon-gil,
Tangjeong-myeon, Asan-si,
Chungcheongnam-do, 31460,
Republic of Korea
e-mail: mjchoi1@sunmoon.ac.kr

Sam D. Park

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Louisville,
332 Eastern Pkwy,
Louisville, KY 40292
e-mail: sam.park@louisville.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received February 8, 2016; final manuscript received February 5, 2017; published online March 16, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Mohamed A. Habib.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 139(4), 042003 (Mar 16, 2017) (12 pages) Paper No: JERT-16-1079; doi: 10.1115/1.4036045 History: Received February 08, 2016; Revised February 05, 2017

Thermocells convert heat energy directly into electrical energy through charge-transfer reactions at the electrode–electrolyte interface. To perform an analytical study on the behavior of thermocells, the Onsager flux relationship was applied to thermocells, which used aqueous copper II sulfate and aqueous potassium ferri/ferrocyanide as the electrolyte. The transport coefficient matrices were calculated for each electrolyte and applied to several simulations, which were subsequently validated through experimental testing and comparison to previous literature results. The simulation is shown to correctly predict the short circuit current, maximum power output, and power conversion efficiency. Validation demonstrates that the simulation model developed, using the Onsager flux equations, works for thermocells with different electrode materials (platinum, copper, charcoal, acetylene black, and carbon nanotube), electrode spacing, and temperature differentials. The power dependence of the thermocell on concentration and electrode spacing, with respect to the Seebeck coefficient, maximum power output, and relative efficiency, is also shown.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Full electrochemical test cell setup for the 6-in Pyrex glass tube. The warm electrode is on the hot plate and connected to a hot air supply stream (right side). The cold electrode can be submersed in a cold water bath (left side).

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Fig. 2

Modified electrochemical test cell setup with a 3-in borosilicate glass tube. Cold electrode is in iced water bath (left side) and warm electrode is on hot plate and supplied with hot moist air (right side).

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Fig. 3

Power output versus current density, using copper electrodes and copper II sulfate electrolyte: (a) for each electrolyte concentration with a temperature differential of 50 °C, using the 152.4 mm (6 in) cell and (b) for each electrode spacing distance

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Fig. 4

Simulation and experimental comparison of short circuit current versus temperature differentials using charcoal electrodes and potassium ferri/ferrocyanide electrolyte concentrations of (a) 0.1 mM, (b) 1 M, and (c) 4 M [2]

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Fig. 5

Simulation and experimental comparison of short circuit current versus temperature differentials using CNT electrodes and 1 M potassium ferri/ferrocyanide electrolyte concentration [2]

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Fig. 6

Simulation and experimental comparison of short circuit current versus temperature differentials using an acetylene black electrode and 1 M potassium ferri/ferrocyanide electrolyte concentration (experimental data used five thermocells connected in series) [2]

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Fig. 7

Simulation and experimental comparison of (a) short circuit current versus temperature differential and (b) short circuit current versus effective electrode area using MWCNT electrodes and 0.4 M potassium ferri/ferrocyanide electrolyte [7]

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Fig. 8

Simulation and experimental comparison of short circuit current versus electrode separation using Pt electrodes and 0.026 M potassium ferri/ferrocyanide electrolyte [4,9]

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Fig. 9

Simulation and experimental comparison of short circuit current versus temperature differentials using (a) 0.01 mM, (b) 0.1 M, and (c) 0.3 M copper II sulfate electrolyte

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Fig. 10

Simulation and experimental comparison of short circuit current versus temperature differentials using 0.3 M copper II sulfate electrolyte with electrode spacings of (a) 152.4 mm (6 in), (b) 76.2 mm (3 in), and (c) 50.8 mm (2 in)

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