MAE Seminar: Innovative Thermal System Design and Economic Paradigms Driving Low- and High-temperature Energy Recovery and Transport Opportunities in Terrestrial and Space Applications

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Terry J. Hendricks

Terry J. Hendricks, P.E.
Power and Sensors System Section
NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology


Abstract: Spacecraft thermal and power technologies are embedded in our daily lives. Piezoelectrics in our shoes; heat pipes in our computers; thermoelectrics (TE) in the ground, automobiles and spacecraft; radar sensors in our automobiles; and solar photovoltaics and thermal systems to power our homes and industries are prevalent as never before. Thermal, thermoelectric systems and other energy conversion technologies like solar technologies have key benefits and strengths in many terrestrial, space and military energy recovery applications, such as potential modularity, high reliability and solid-state performance requiring little or no operational maintenance. New thermoelectric systems will rely on TE materials currently being developed at smaller length-scales and with new nano-composite materials (including Ni/La3Te4, Ca9Zn4.6Sb9, and NiSb2Sn) to support next-generation energy harvesting and next-generation thermoelectric power system opportunities. The latest advanced and demonstrated TE materials (skutterudites, La3-xTe4, Zintls) will be discussed to show new trends, requirements and remaining challenges. New skutterudite-based TE modules using nanoscale and microscale design techniques have demonstrated high power levels (~ 20 W per module), uniquely high module-level power fluxes greater than 3.5 W/cm2, and high efficiency (~ 10%) at working temperature differentials of approximately Th=525°C to Tc=20°C. However, TE system cost is as critically important as power density or efficiency for the adoption of waste energy recovery (WER) thermoelectric generators (TEG) in pathways to global energy sustainability. Thermoelectric energy recovery (TER) systems in various global applications have a common need to demonstrate high performance and low cost to be competitive with other energy-conversion technologies.  Focusing on the best TE materials does not necessarily address system cost as a key factor, limiting TEG system commercialization. This presentation will show new cost-driven TE system design paradigms that highlight the importance of thermal system design and performance in TE and other energy recovery power systems, and the design synergy between TE and solar photovoltaic systems in particular. JPL is therefore also developing new advanced minichannel heat exchangers and microscale evaporators to integrate with the new TE systems in advanced energy recovery systems enhancing energy management and efficiency in terrestrial applications. This presentation will examine current and potential future use of thermal and TE technology and systems based on nanoscale and microscale material advancements for proposed NASA deep-space missions to Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Europa, Titan and Enceladus and beyond; and transitioning to Earth-based applications in automotive, industrial and aircraft. These technologies demonstrate how NASA-driven technology development is flowing down to a wide-spectrum of Earth-based power and thermal system applications in energy recovery systems and solar power systems.

Bio: Hendricks is currently a project manager, ASME fellow, and IEEE senior member in the Autonomous Systems Division at NASA–Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) / California Institute of Technology, responsible for designing spacecraft solar power systems, radioisotope power systems (RPS), thermal management and thermal energy storage systems critical to NASA missions. Among his numerous awards, he was recently inducted into the University of Texas at Austin Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni. He has also been nominated for a prestigious 2020 ENI Award in Italy for his innovative work in energy frontier research. During his tenure at JPL, among his many duties he was the project manager on an innovative, complex and multidisciplinary DARPA project to develop a thermoelectric power system design for unmanned aircraft (UAV) engine energy recovery applicable to different UAV platforms, and the project manager on a multidisciplinary RPS pyroshock effects-and-testing project elucidating and quantifying multifrequency dynamic environment effects on RPS performance. Prior to JPL, Hendricks was the energy recovery program director at Battelle Memorial Institute and senior program manager at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he managed U.S. DOE and Army projects in hybrid power system development, automotive and industrial waste energy recovery, military energy recovery and advanced heat transfer. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in engineering from the University of Texas, Austin and his bachelor's degree, summa cum laude in physics from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  He has over 39 years of professional expertise in thermal and fluid systems, energy recovery, energy conversion and storage systems, terrestrial and spacecraft power systems, micro-electro-mechanical systems and project management. His xpertise is exhibited in three book chapters published by Taylor and Francis and Elsevier; nine patents; and over 86 reports, conference papers and journal articles in the Journals of Electronic Materials, Materials Research, Heat Transfer, Thermophysics and Heat Transfer, and International Heat and Mass Transfer.  Hendricks is a registered professional engineer in California and Texas.