In the framework of the Research Training Network “TPV cells based on GaSb” (Aug. 2002 – Jul. 2005) supported by the EU, a 1.3 kW thermal power prototype of a Thermo Photo Voltaic (TPV) system has been built and tested at ISET.

Due to the particular design, the prototype has been used as a tester, with different combinations of cells and emitter materials, such as SiC, rare earth garnet emitter and Kanthal. The performance of the system can therefore be analyzed and compared under different operating conditions. Parallel to the experimental work, a theoretical model of the TPV system based on the Finite Element Method (FEM) is currently under development.

In the first part of the paper the authors describe the TPV prototype realized at ISET, showing the experimental results obtained so far and illustrating the further steps planned in order to improve the system.

The second part of the paper concerns the development of the theoretical model, focusing attention on the simulation approach and on the role of the recuperative burner unit. Present results concerning the combustion process and the cell cooling are illustrated.

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