Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 389–401 | Cite as

Optimal design of a model energy conversion device

  • Lincoln Collins
  • Kaushik BhattacharyaEmail author
Research Paper


Fuel cells, batteries, and thermochemical and other energy conversion devices involve the transport of a number of (electro-) chemical species through distinct materials so that they can meet and react at specified multi-material interfaces. Therefore, morphology or arrangement of these different materials can be critical in the performance of an energy conversion device. In this paper, we study a model problem motivated by a solar-driven thermochemical conversion device that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. We formulate the problem as a system of coupled multi-material reaction-diffusion equations where each species diffuses selectively through a given material and where the reaction occurs at multi-material interfaces. We introduce a phase-field formulation of the optimal design problem and numerically study selected examples.


Energy convergence device Phase field approach Reaction-diffusion equations Thermal hydrolysis Interfacial reactions 



This work draws from the doctoral thesis of LC at the California Institute of Technology. It is a pleasure to acknowledge many interesting discussions with Sossina M. Haile, Robert V. Kohn and Patrick Dondl. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation through the PIRE grant: OISE-0967140.

Funding information

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation through the PIRE grant: OISE-0967140.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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