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J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 Jul;128(1):98-103. doi: 10.1121/1.3409370.

Thermoacoustic power conversion using a piezoelectric transducer.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Mississippi, National Center for Physical Acoustics, Mississippi 38677, USA.


The predicted efficiency of a simple thermoacoustic waste heat power conversion device has been investigated as part of a collaborative effort combining a thermoacoustic engine with a piezoelectric transducer. Symko et al. [Microelectron. J. 35, 185-191 (2004)] at the University of Utah built high frequency demonstration engines for this application, and Lynn [ASMDC report, accession number ADA491030 (2008)] at the University of Washington designed and built a high efficiency piezoelectric unimorph transducer for electroacoustic conversion. The design presented in this paper is put forward to investigate the potential of a simple high frequency, air filled, standing wave thermoacoustic device to be competitive with other small generator technologies such as thermoelectric devices. The thermoacoustic generator is simulated using a low-amplitude approximation for thermoacoustics and the acoustic impedance of the transducer is modeled using an equivalent circuit model calculated from the transducer's mechanical and electrical properties. The calculations demonstrate that a device performance of around 10% of Carnot efficiency could be expected from the design which is competitive with currently available thermoelectric generators.

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