Effects of chemical fuel composition on energy generation from thermopower waves

Taehan Yeo, Hayoung Hwang, Dong Cheol Jeong, Kang Yeol Lee, Jongsup Hong, Changsik Song, Wonjoon Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Thermopower waves, which occur during combustion within hybrid structures formed from nanomaterials and chemical fuels, result in a self-propagating thermal reaction and concomitantly generate electrical energy from the acceleration of charge carriers along the nanostructures. The hybrid structures for thermopower waves are composed of two primary components: the core thermoelectric material and the combustible fuel. So far, most studies have focused on investigating various nanomaterials for improving energy generation. Herein, we report that the composition of the chemical fuel used has a significant effect on the power generated by thermopower waves. Hybrid nanostructures consisting of mixtures of picric acid and picramide with sodium azide were synthesized and used to generate thermopower waves. A maximum voltage of ∼2 V and an average peak specific power as high as 15 kW kg-1 were obtained using the picric acid/sodium azide/multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) array composite. The average reaction velocity and the output voltage in the case of the picric acid/sodium azide were 25 cm s-1 and 157 mV, while they were 2 cm s-1 and 3 mV, in the case of the picramide/sodium azide. These marked differences are attributable to the chemical and structural differences of the mixtures. Mixing picric acid and sodium azide in deionized water resulted in the formation of 2,4,6-trinitro sodium phenoxide and hydrogen azide (H-N3), owing to the exchange of H+ and Na+ ions, as well as the formation of fiber-like structures, because of benzene π stacking. The negative enthalpy of formation of the new compounds and the fiber-like structures accelerate the reaction and increase the output voltage. Elucidating the effects of the composition of the chemical fuel used in the hybrid nanostructures will allow for the control of the combustion process and help optimize the energy generated from thermopower waves, furthering the development of thermopower waves as an energy source.

Original languageEnglish
Article number445403
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 7


  • carbon nanotube
  • chemical fuel
  • combustion
  • energy conversion
  • picramide
  • picric acid
  • thermopower waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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