How does it Work?
It is to note that unlike any equipment using solar energy, this new heat engine doesn’t use any kind of semi-conductors or photovoltaic cells to convert solar energy to electrical energy. The engine just uses hydrogen and a source of heat, similar to one found in the internal combustion engine or solar energy.
The new heat engine is a solid state heat engine that works on the Ericsson cycle, which provides the same efficiency as that provided by the Carnot cycle for an engine operating between two different temperatures. The system uses the electrochemical potential of the hydrogen pressure that is applied throughout a membrane electrode assembly (MEA).
The arrangement of the heat engine consists of two membrane electrode assemblies, with one end of an MEA attached to a high temperature source using solar energy, and the other stack attached to a low temperature source, which is generally at room or lower temperature. The end which is at a lower temperature acts as a compressor stage whereas the other end acts as a power stage.
The working of the engine is initiated by an electric spark, which creates a pressure difference, producing a voltage across the whole stack. The voltage is mainly caused because of the difference in pressure between the two ends. The high temperature end with a higher voltage will act as a power stage and force the hydrogen at the lower temperature end to move in the opposite direction. The hydrogen will eventually pass through the proton membrane and generate a current. This whole process of hydrogen traveling from low pressure area to high pressure area, along with the pressure difference, produces the electrical charge, which can be used to drive other devices.