Robert Smith

Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Xiaohua Li
Current Research Topic: 
Designing a Solar Thermoelectric Generator: 3rd Iteration
Research into efficient methods for harnessing alternative energy sources like solar power have gathered momentum through the last decade. Concepts for harnessing solar energy have been theorized and practiced far longer than most realize. Our goal for this research project is in the design of a low cost thermoelectric generator that can be used both with a dome for trapping solar radiation trapping and as a bare of thermoelectric generator for direct contact with a heat source. Preliminary research was done under the direction of Dr. Xiaohua Li in the fall semester of 2013 by Jordan Jackson and Nick Poulides. They created the first prototype using a single thermoelectric module first employed during that semester. [1] A new prototype was designed using a 3D printed chamber for trapping solar radiation along with four thermoelectric modules and a heatsink. The device was tested summer 2015. We discovered that the device had inefficiencies in its design but progress was made enabling us to refine the prototype for a third iteration in the coming academic year. Our goal at this stage is to have an efficient design for testing all our material/film combinations summer 2016 and working toward the final device design.