Optimization of Thermally Regenerative Electrochemical Cycles in Galvanic Cells

Industrial and residential processes create large amounts of waste heat, and harnessing this waste is an appealing way to improve sustainability in manufacturing processes. This experiment examined a method for recuperating wasted thermal energy to make usable electrical energy by taking advantage of the difference in cell potentials at different temperatures. The examined process was a cycle of heating galvanic cells, charging them, and cooling them. This process is called a thermally regenerative electrochemical cycle (TREC), and can be used to harness low-temperature waste heat. This experiment examined the effects that the temperature at which the cells were charged, the concentration of the electrolytes used in the galvanic cells, and the rate at which the cells were cooled after charging had on the voltage returned during one cycle. These are all factors in either the cells or the cycle that could affect performance and may be altered due to the implementation or construction of cells used in TRECs. The effects and interaction effects of the variables were determined and analyzed with a three-factor Design of Experiment. Of the tested variables, only maximum temperature had a significant effect on the amount of voltage gained by a TREC. Therefore, when attempting to maximize the energy recaptured by TRECs, only the temperature to which the cells were heated for charging increases the energy recuperated by the cycle; none of the others had a significant effect.

Research Conducted By:

Zachary Barringer
Lakeview High School

Alexander Feleo
Lakeview High School