Georgia Patent of the Month – November 2023
JTEC Energy Inc. (JTEC) is set on addressing a global need – a new source of clean, sustainable energy. All across the world, we are seeing the impacts of this energy crisis. From the blackouts in Texas in 2021 to California’s ongoing rolling blackouts. Our growing reliance on technology has also built a precarious reliance on energy.
JTEC’s solution is a Johnson thermo-electrochemical converter which comprises two membrane electrode assembly (MEA) arrays, each equipped with porous electrodes, ion-conductive membranes, and a working fluid, such as hydrogen. The unique design involves a high-pressure conduit and a low-pressure conduit, creating a pressure differential between the arrays. In a strategic configuration, the first MEA array has more porous electrodes and membranes than the second, ensuring additional working fluid is pumped from the low-pressure side to the high-pressure side.
During operation, the working fluid circulates through the MEA arrays, compensating for pressure loss due to molecular diffusion. The porous electrodes of the first MEA array are electrically connected in series, producing a higher MEA voltage for enhanced efficiency. The working fluid, carefully selected from options like oxygen, hydrogen, or sodium, ensures versatility in application. The converter includes a heat exchanger for efficient heat transfer and a controller that intelligently actuates the MEA arrays to pump additional hydrogen to the high-pressure side. This dynamic adjustment compensates for hydrogen diffusion, optimizing the system’s overall performance.
In simpler terms, there is a hot side and a cool side. The bottom region is high pressure and the top region is low pressure. Hydrogen gas on the hot side is oxidized in the high pressure region, causing hydrogen ions to travel and convert back into H2 (i.e. two hydrogen ions joined together) at the low pressure region. This process also happens in reverse at the low temperature side. As a result of these two reactions, the hydrogen gas is in a constant state of movement, creating excess electrical energy which can be used to do useful work. Useful work, like highly efficient air conditioning and refrigeration by harvesting heat energy. The company believes the device can be applied to solar thermal farms, cell phones and wearable devices, server farms, and the automotive industry amongst others.
The JTEC system stands out in comparison to traditional electrochemical cells and fuel cells, offering a scalable and reliable solution. Unlike battery-type cells with limited reactant capacity, the JTEC converter excels in continuous operation. Additionally, it addresses the challenges associated with Alkali Metal Thermo-Electrochemical Conversion (AMTEC) cells, showcasing improved reliability and expanded utility.
The Johnson Thermo-Electrochemical Converter presented by JTEC Energy represents a significant leap in the pursuit of efficient, reliable, and scalable energy conversion. With its inventive design and strategic compensation for pressure differentials, this technology holds the promise of reshaping the landscape of heat-to-electricity conversion systems.
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