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MEAM Seminar: “Tackling Energy Sector Challenges with Interdisciplinary Research and Education Initiatives”
September 15, 2020 at 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Tackling the energy sector’s pressing technological and workforce needs requires a multi-pronged approach. This talk will include a discussion of both technical research and educational approaches to address these needs. The educational initiatives include implementation of the Energy Fellows Program, a training and professional development program, as well as research on the varying perceptions of students, faculty, and practicing engineers about what skills and knowledge are required for careers in the energy sector. The technical research focuses on conversion of waste heat into electricity since the majority of energy resources are wasted as heat. Thermoelectric power generators can convert waste heat into useful electrical energy, but traditional thermoelectric device manufacturing uses bulk material processing with machining, assembly, and integration steps which lead to material waste and performance limitations. The traditional manufacturing approach offers virtually no flexibility in designing the geometry of thermoelectric modules. Additive manufacturing can overcome these challenges. This presentation will describe our progress in laser-based additive manufacturing of thermoelectric materials such as tellurides and silicides. Laser powder bed fusion (also known as selective laser melting) is an additive manufacturing process which locally melts successive layers of material powder to construct three-dimensional objects. When applied to thermoelectric materials, this technique could enable new geometries and architectures, material-to-device integration, and large-area processing. The presentation will show the first demonstrations of laser additive manufacturing applied to thermoelectric materials and discuss the link between materials, manufacturing, and system-level considerations for thermoelectric power generators.
Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, The George Washington University
Saniya LeBlanc is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at The George Washington University. Her research goals are to create next-generation energy conversion technologies with advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. Previously, she was a research scientist at a startup company where she created research, development, and manufacturing characterization solutions for thermoelectric technologies and evaluated the potential of new power generation materials. Dr. LeBlanc obtained a PhD in mechanical engineering with a minor in materials science at Stanford University where she was a Diversifying Academia Recruiting Excellence fellow, a Sandia Campus Executive fellow, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellow. She was a Churchill Scholar at University of Cambridge where she received an MPhil in engineering, and she has a BS in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2018, the American Society of Engineering Education named Dr. LeBlanc one of its “20 Under 40” high-achieving researchers and educators.