Lecture: Professor Gang Chen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • 2016-08-26
  • Lecture: Professor Gang Chen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Gang Chen is currently the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is the director of the "Solid-State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion Center (S3TEC Center)" - an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy.

This talk started with a big picture review on grand challenges we are facing, and then moved on to discuss opportunities in taking fundamental understanding in micro/nanoscale transport to develop better materials and devices for thermal and solar energy utilization. One example is thermoelectric energy conversion. Prof.Chen discussed progress in advancing fundamental understanding of phonon and electron transport, designing and synthesizing new and improved materials, and building devices for improving the efficiency of solar and thermal energy conversion to electricity. He also introduced a thermogalvonic regenerative cycle which converts heat electricity at relatively high efficiencies using batteries and low-grade heat sources, emphasizing philosophical differences in thermoelectric and thermogalvonic energy conversion technologies: one based on spatial and the other on temporal thermodynamic cycles. Along a different direction, he discussed how to exploit transport physics in low-dimensional systems to turn polymers from a poor heat conductor to a good heat conductor, and our effort in developing scalable manufacturing processes for highly thermally conductivity polymers. The talk then moved on to present their work in MIT on solar energy utilization including a new steam generation approach and a combine solar thermal and PV system, and closed with a discussion on water challenges in the water-energy nexus.