Clemson physics professor Terry Tritt receives Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research

ATE: August 25, 2008

CONTACT: Terry Tritt, 864-656-5319
[email protected]

WRITER: Susan Polowczuk, 864-656-2063
[email protected]

CLEMSON — Clemson University physics professor Terry Tritt will receive the 2008 Governor's Award for Excellence in Scientific Research at 2:30 p.m. Monday at the governor's office in Columbia.

Terry TrittIn announcing the award, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said, "This is a testament to your hard work and outstanding talent as an educator and researcher. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to further scientific research in South Carolina and throughout the world."

Tritt has received international attention for his study of thermoelectric energy. He says that energy now lost from hot engines could save billions of dollars if it could be captured and converted into electricity. He will be a keynote speaker at the Automotive Industry's Global Powertrain Conference in Chicago in October.

"Thermoelectric energy conversion is a solid-state technology that is environmentally friendly. One of the more promising down-to-earth applications lies in waste-heat recovery in cars and trucks," said Tritt.

Tritt maintains that more than 60 percent of the energy that goes into an automotive combustion cycle is lost, primarily to waste heat through the exhaust or radiator system.

Clemson research focuses on developing higher-efficiency thermoelectric materials that could increase savings significantly. Research into the electrical and thermal properties of new materials could reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels and has shown promise with two classes of materials: low-dimensional systems for enhanced electrical properties and increased phonon scattering that leads to inherently low thermal conductivity.

Tritt heads up the Department of Energy's Center of Excellence in Thermoelectric Materials Research at Clemson, one of the leading laboratories for thermoelectric materials in the world. The national center focuses on the next generation of thermoelectric materials for power conversion and refrigeration. Researchers in physics, materials science and chemistry screen promising new classes of materials in order to achieve higher-performance thermoelectric materials. DOE has renewed the program with $1.5 million a year in research funding for the next three years. He also has a contract with the Air Force for work on thermoelectric materials development.

The Governor's Award for Excellence in Science honors an individual or team in the state whose achievements and contributions to science in South Carolina merit special recognition and promotes wider awareness of the quality and extent of scientific activity in South Carolina. Earlier this year, Tritt received the Clemson Alumni Award for Research and the College of Engineering and Science Award for Achievement in the Sciences.

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