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HKIE Outstanding Paper Award for Young Engineers/Researchers 2022

14 Oct 2022

BRE PhD candidate Miss CHENG Chun and her supervisor Prof. Meng Ni awarded the HKIE Outstanding Paper Award for Young Engineers/Researchers 2022

About the research:

In 2021, the United States already consumed approximately 1.026 569 × 1011 GJ of energy, where about two-thirds is discharged into the environment without effective reuse. As a primary form of waste energy, low-grade waste heat (<150oC) not only causes energy loss but also thermal pollution. Converting heat to electricity via a thermodynamic cycle is effective for utilizing high-temperature heat but the efficiency is extremely low for low-grade heat, for example, 9%-16% within a working temperature range of 80-150K for the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems. For comparison, electrochemical thermocells offer an alternative way of converting low-grade waste heat into electricity at a potentially higher efficiency than conventional thermodynamic cycles. In our previous research, we successfully achieved a relative efficiency of 50.817% (relative to Carnot efficiency) with a recuperation efficiency of 70% at a temperature difference of 30K. Although some pioneering experimental investigations have been reported on thermocells, the current literature is lacking comprehensive modeling and optimization of the cells, which is critical not only for the in-depth understanding of the working mechanisms of the thermocells, but also for engineering design and optimization. In this work, we developed a numerical model to simulate the physical and chemical processes in the thermocell. We evaluated the effects of the operating and structural parameters on the performance of thermocells and identified several potential means to improve cell performance. Based on our optimization, the cell power density can be improved by up to 30%. 

About the award:

This work has been awarded the HKIE Outstanding Paper Award for Young Engineers/Researchers 2022.

This award is organized by The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) to encourage young engineers and researchers worldwide aged 35 or below to publish their works and advance in their professional fields and to promote engineering advancement.

About the PHD candidate:
Miss CHENG Chun is a PHD student at BRE, under supervision of Prof. Meng Ni, Professor of BRE and Associate Dean (Research) of FCE.  Her research focuses on electrochemical systems for low grade heat utilization.  Apart from this award-winning publication, Miss CHENG has published 3 papers in excellent journals, including two papers in ACS Energy Letters and 1 paper in Chemical Engineering Journal

More information about Prof. Meng Ni can be found at:

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