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Heat Transfer Interface for Thermo-Solar Energy

IB-2604

APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:

ADVANTAGES:

ABSTRACT:

Alex Zettl of Berkeley Lab has invented a high efficiency solar energy collector and converter. In one aspect of the Berkeley Lab technology, nanotube forests are attached to the exterior of a heat exchanger to absorb sunlight with high efficiency. In a second aspect, nanotube forests are mounted to the interior of a heat exchanger and functionalized to work in concert with heat transfer fluids.
By addressing both the solar absorption and heat transfer elements, the resulting technology promises to be more efficient than conventional thermo-solar energy methods.

In the case of water as a heat transfer fluid, for example, a superhydrophilic functionalization of the nanotube forests improves the thermal transfer between the heat exchanger wall and the water being heated inside. As a result, sunlight efficiently heats the outside of the heat exchanger that, in turn, heats the water flowing within its interior. The water turns to steam and performs mechanical work via a steam turbine or other machine. Other fluids such as molten metals and salts as well as gases can be utilized in this technology.

This invention will be of interest to utility companies investing in power plant improvements as well as farmers or homeowners seeking to generate their own power.  The components of the technology could be used to improve heat transfer in industrial, commercial and home heating and cooling systems; internal combustion engines; and in electronic devices, such as notebook computers, that frequently overheat.

STATUS:  Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:  Early research. Components tested successfully.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Pastine, S., Okawa, D., Kessler, B., Rolandi, M., Llorente, M., Zettl, A., Fréchet, J.  “A facile and patternable method for surface modification of carbon nanotube forests using perfluoroarylazides,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2008, 130, 4238-4239.

SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:

First Diode for Thermal Management of Micro and Macro Devices, IB-2336 

Tunable Thermal Link, IB-2337 

Tunable Molecular Heterostructures for Optimal Energy Conversion and Storage, IB-2380 

Scalable Methods for Growing, Shaping and Placing Nanostructures, IB-2047, 2068, 2125, 2144 

REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2604

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