Thermophotovoltaic Experiment

By Evan L Schlenker1, Zhou Zhiguang1, Peter Bermel1

1. Purdue University

Simulates thermophotovoltaic system, accounting for thermal losses.

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Version 1.0 - published on 29 Sep 2015

doi:10.4231/D3MW28G1H cite this

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Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems are a promising type of energy generation method that convert heat into electricity via thermal radiation. TPV has potential to benefit the economy, the energy sector, and the environment by converting waste heat from other power generation methods into electricity. Simulations of these systems can play a key role in designing TPV systems and validating their experimental performance. Current simulation tools can model important aspects of TPV systems fairly accurately, but generally make certain simplifying assumptions that are challenging to reproduce in experiments. Developing a simulation tool that accurately captures thermal emission and reflection in complex, realistic geometries will facilitate understanding and further development of TPV systems. An existing tool developed at Purdue, known as TPVtest, has now been modified and streamlined to create a new tool, TPVexpt, to help achieve this goal. New features in TPVexpt include: (1) the input of shunt and series resistance of a PV cell and consideration of the associated losses when calculating power output; and (2) the input of arbitrary size and position rectangular heater, emitter, and PV diode for view factor calculations to accurately model radiative heat transfer. TPVexpt combines an accessible GUI with TPV analysis that accounts for thermal non-idealities and realistic geometries to produce more accurate power and efficiency predictions for TPV systems. Finally, TPVexpt has been partially validated against real-world TPV experiments up to 800 °C; additional work is needed here to verify the generality of this approach, and to aid current and future researchers in advancing TPV technology.

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TPVtest  (see

MEEP (see

S4 (see


Peter Bermel, Zhiguang Zhou, Mike McLennan, Tanya Faltens, and Vicki Leavitt for valuable discussions. Creators of TPVtest for forming the foundation for the tool [12].

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This work was supported by NSF Award EEC 1227110 - Network for Computational Nanotechnology Cyberplatform.


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Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Evan Schlenker, Zhiguang Zhou, Peter Bermel

  • Evan L Schlenker, Zhou Zhiguang, Peter Bermel (2015), "Thermophotovoltaic Experiment," (DOI: 10.4231/D3MW28G1H).

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