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Thermal conductivity measurements of alternative energy sources

Energy graphic

Thursday, March 15, 2018
1:30 – 2:30 PM
ENGR 103

About the Presentation

Alternative energy sources such as thermoelectric materials offer the potential to be used for wearable sensors and devices. By utilizing a relatively small temperature gradient, enough electricity can be produced to power small devices. To continue to improve the efficiency of thermoelectric materials, three material properties must be optimized: the Seebeck coefficient, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity. The Seebeck coefficient and electrical conductivity properties are commonly measured using commercial instruments. However, thermal conductivity commercial instruments typically only measure the cross-plane property due to the complexity of the in-plane thermal conductivity property. The first part of this study is to develop a method to measure the in-plane thermal conductivity of thermoelectric materials.

Nuclear energy is an alternative energy source that only accounts for 20% of the United States electrical output each year. However, nuclear energy exhibits a much lower carbon foot print than traditional coal and gas options. In order to further improve and develop nuclear energy, it is essential to better understand the thermal conductivity of the nuclear fuel. Thermal conductivity measurements aid in the simulation design and testing of nuclear reactors. The materials within a nuclear reactor change due to irradiation, however it is important to understand how the material structure changes. Typically, thermal conductivity measurements are performed through post-irradiation examination. This limits our understanding of the material properties as phenomena can be disturbed and we only see the sample’s end state during the measurement. Therefore, it is necessary to develop in-situ thermal conductivity measurement methods. The second part of this study focuses on developing a one-dimensional, radial, transient temperature distribution model. The thermal needle probe measurement approach will be used for experimental validation of the theoretical 1-D model.

Courtney Hollar picAbout the Presenter

Courtney Hollar
Graduate Research Assistant, University of Idaho
Courtney Hollar is pursuing her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Idaho. She received both her B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boise State University. Courtney’s research focuses on the heat transfer properties of various alternative energy sources such as thermoelectric materials and nuclear materials. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Boise State University Top Ten Scholar award.