Applied Energy, Vol.237, 155-162, 2019
Platinum nanoparticle catalysis of methanol for thermoelectric power generation
Catalytic combustion of hydrocarbon and oxygenated fuels has the potential to provide an alternative power source for portable electronic devices. Our previous studies have demonstrated sustained catalytic combustion for a variety of fuels using multi-channel cordierite substrates. In particular, methanol-air mixtures catalyzed by platinum nanoparticles yielded room-temperature self-ignition and stable combustion. The present work explores a stacked-reactor design of a microcombustion-thermoelectric coupled device that marries thermal management strategies with catalytic combustion. Synthesized platinum nanoparticles (d(p)similar to 8 nm) were deposited on rectangular cordierite substrate cartridges with 800 gm wide channels. A custom-designed copper aluminum reactor was used to host the catalytic cartridges. A near-stoichiometric mixture of methanol-air at 8000 mL/min air flow rate produced 62 degrees C temperature difference across thermoelectric generators. Material analysis demonstrated a non-uniform restructuring of catalyst material across the substrate. A parametric study of catalyst loading and air flow mapped the optimal operational range of the device. While a relatively low power output of 490 mW was measured, a theoretical power potential of 1400 mW was estimated. The results confirm the unique advantages of multi-channel catalytic cartridges and guide future developments in the application of nanocatalytic microcombustion for portable power sources.