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Visiting Industrial Fellows
Steven DelaCruz, Ph.D. 2020

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Prof. Maboudian

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Steven received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2015. He is currently a PhD student in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department. He is working on microfabricated thermionic energy converters under Professor Roya Maboudian.

Silicon Carbide Passivated Electrode for Thermionic Energy Conversion [BPN835]
In thermionic energy converters (TECs), electrons emitted from a hot electrode (emitter) into a vacuum gap are
harvested by a cooler electrode (collector), and then return to the emitter, delivering power to an external load. In
this process, TECs convert heat directly into electricity and have the potential to achieve high efficiencies
comparable to those of conventional heat engines. We have initiated a collaborative project to develop a
microfabricated, close-gap thermionic energy converter that utilizes heat from a combustion source. Potential
applications include residential combined heat and power systems and light-weight battery alternatives. One key
challenge is designing the emitter, which needs to be highly conductive and survive temperatures as hot as 1700 C
in an oxidizing environment. While tungsten is an attractive choice for the emitter, it readily oxidizes under the
envisioned conditions. Owing to its chemical inertness and mechanical strength at high temperatures, silicon
carbide is an effective option for electrode passivation. In this work, we are developing processes for fabricating a
SiC-protected tungsten electrode, exploring the necessity and effectiveness of various interdiffusion barriers, and
investigating its long-term stability under harsh environments.

Current Active Projects:

     Last Updated: Thu 2017-Sep-28 16:41:05

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