Development of thermoacoustic devices for power generation and refrigeration
journal contributionposted on 15.10.2013, 14:34 by Artur J. Jaworski, Xiaoan Mao
This paper is intended as a technical overview of the research and development work initially undertaken at the University of Manchester and subsequently transferred to the University of Leicester as part of the EPSRC-funded SCORE project (Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity supply). The objectives of the work were twofold: Firstly, to develop an early demonstrator of a low-power electricity generator (to deliver approximately 10–20Wof electricity). This was to be based on the concept of using low-cost materials, working fluids and linear alternators suitable for deployment in rural areas of developing countries. The issues of concern here were the development of a suitable thermoacoustic engine topology and control measures; design of suitable heat exchanger configurations from initial use of electrical heaters to heat input through propane combustion; and characterisation of commercial loudspeakers to work as linear alternators and subsequent incorporation of selected models for engine prototyping purposes. These matters will be illustrated by a number of demonstrators and their testing in the laboratory environment. Secondly, to develop a demonstrator of a combustion driven thermoacoustic cooler for storage of vital medical supplies in remote and rural areas where there is no access to electricity grid. To this end, the paper will describe the design, construction and test results of an electrically driven demonstrator of a standing wave thermoacoustic engine coupled to a travelling wave thermoacoustic cooler. The final part of the paper will summarise the achievements to date and outline future work that has spun out from the original SCORE project. This will in particular include the current work on a scaled up version of electricity generator designed to deliver 100W of electricity by using a two-stage engine configuration and the issues of integration of the thermoacoustic electricity generator and thermoacoustic cooler into one system.