Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering


Thermomagnetics: A Path Toward Low Grade Energy Harvesting


Dr. Makita Phillips


ASEE/NSF Small Business Postdoctoral Research Diversity Fellow


Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 11:00:00 AM


MARC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Baratunde Cola


Renewable energy is an important component in our portfolio to address our growing energy demands. While approaches exist to harvest energy from mechanical (wind and water) and solar sources, a successful approach to harvest the most ubiquitous form of energy (thermal) has been limited. According to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 66.7 quadrillion BTU of energy, mainly heat, was wasted in 20171. An ARPA-E report indicates that nearly 75% of the waste heat is low-grade greater than or equal to 230 degrees Celsius and that 85% of the work potential at Carnot efficiency is available below 400 degrees Celsius to the 2nd power. Therefore, a unique opportunity exists for increasing our renewable energy resources by developing an effective thermal energy harvesting approach. The thermal energy harvesting community has focused almost exclusively on thermoelectric devices for the last century. These devices translate heat to electricity using a chemical process, where relative efficiencies of greater than 20% have been found. The emerging area of thermomagnetics may provide a more efficient pathway with relative efficiencies ranging from ~22-55%4,5. However, more information is needed to understand the bounds of the conversion ability of thermomagnetic materials and their integration within a device. In this talk, I will explore the development of an active thermomagnetic device used to convert thermal energy to electrical energy via magnetic transduction. More specifically, I will present the development of a numerical model and the effect of various design and operational conditions on conversion efficiency. In addition to their operational behavior, I will explain the role they play in a renewable energy space and their connection to thermal management.


Makita R. Phillips is an ASEE/NSF Small Business Postdoctoral Research Diversity Fellow at Carbice Corporation currently focused on the behavior and incorporation of thermal storage and interface materials through numerical simulation. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida A&M University where she received a Corning fellowship for her work with superconducting insulation materials and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. After her Ph.D., she was a California Alliance Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor at University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests focus on nanomaterials for thermal management through energy harvesting and storage.