Thermoacoustic energy conversion was introduced into engineering systems during the past three decades as a new, alternative, environmentally safe energy conversion technology. It uses noble gases and mixtures of noble gases as working fluids rather than hazardous refrigerants required for the vapor compression cycle. A thermoacoustic system can operate both as a prime mover/engine (a temperature gradient and heat flow imposed across the stack lead to the generation of acoustic work/sound in the resonator) and, when reversing the thermodynamic cycle, as a refrigerator (acoustic work is used to pump heat from the low temperature reservoir and release it into a higher temperature ambient). Energy transport in thermoacoustic systems is based on the thermoacoustic effect. Using an acoustic driver, the working fluid in the resonance tube is excited to generate an acoustic standing wave. When introducing a stack of parallel plates of length Δx into the acoustic field at a suitable location, a temperature difference ΔT develops along the stack plates. This temperature difference is caused by the thermoacoustic effect. In this paper the thermoacoustic effect is visualized using real-time holographic interferometry combined with high-speed cinematography. In holographic interferometry both temperature and pressure variations impact the refractive index and both of these variations are present in our thermoacoustic system. In our analysis temperature variations are uncoupled from pressure variations to quantitatively visualize the oscillating temperature fields around the stack plate.

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