Utilizing Energy Harvesting Systems Embedded in Asphalt Pavement to Mitigate Effects of Urban Heat Islands




Legette, Sarah

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As more people are beginning to move into urban areas, the effects of Urban Heat Islands (UHI) are becoming more prominent. In an effort to mitigate some of the effects of UHI, this thesis aims to support the design of a thermoelectric energy harvesting device that decreases the surface temperature of asphalt pavement while also directing heat flow into the device for energy conversion. The thermoelectric prototype utilizes a copper plate embedded into the pavement to retain the heat transferred from solar radiation, guiding it into a thermoelectric generator (TEG) where it converts the temperature gradient into electric energy. The goal of this research is to observe the impact that geometry and depth of embedded copper have on surface temperature and rate of heat flow out of the pavement. To predict the changes that these modifications have on the heat distribution in the pavement, a section of pavement layers was modeled using ABAQUS, a finite element analysis software. Several iterations of the simulation were run using variations of a copper mesh and a copper plate as the embedded geometries. The nodal temperatures for the top asphalt layer were recorded at each time increment throughout the day and used to analyze the changes to the surface temperature and the accumulated heat within the system at a given time. From the information gathered from ABAQUS simulations, it was concluded that the embedded copper objects have the potential to encourage heat flow from solar radiation into the energy harvesting device. The results showed slight decreases in the surface temperature of the pavement region directly above the embedded objects and an overall decreases in the amount of heat accumulated in the asphalt layer. Additionally, a concluding proposal for future work outlines areas for optimization that have the potential to greater impact the mitigation of UHI and increase the efficiency of the thermoelectric energy harvesting device.


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Embedded Pavement Systems, Energy Harvesting, Finite Element Analysis, Urban Heat Islands



Mechanical Engineering