Enhancing thermal, electrical efficiencies of a miniature combustion-driven thermophotovoltaic system

Yueh Heng Li, Hong Yuan Li, Derek Dunn-Rankin, Yei Chin Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Methods to enhance the thermal and electrical efficiencies through novel design of combustion and thermal management of the combustor in a miniature thermophotovoltaic (TPV) system are proposed, discussed, and demonstrated in this paper. The miniature TPV system consists of a swirling combustor surrounded by GaSb PV cell arrays. The swirl combustor design, along with a heat-regeneration reverse tube and mixingenhancing porous-medium fuel injection, improves the low illumination and incomplete combustion problems associated with typical miniature TPV systems. A reverse tube is used to enforce swirling flame attachment to the inner wall of the emitter by pushing the swirl recirculation zone back into the chamber and simultaneously redirecting the hot product gas for reheating the outer surface of the emitter. The porous medium fuel injector is used as afuellair mixing enhancer and as aflame stabilizer to anchor the flame. The miniature TPV system, using different combustor configurations, is tested and discussed. Results indicate that the proposed swirling combustor with a reverse tube and porous medium can improve the intensity and uniformity of the emitter illumination, and can increase the thermal radiant efficiency. Consequently, the overall thermal efficiency and electrical output of the miniature TPV system are greatly enhanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-512
Number of pages11
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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