Improved Thermoelectric Generator Performance using High Temperature Thermoelectric Materials

Paper #:
  • 2017-01-0121

Published:
  • 2017-03-28
Abstract:
Thermoelectric generator (TEG) has received more and more attention in its application in the harvesting of waste thermal energy in automotive engines. Even though the commercial Bismuth Telluride thermoelectric material only have 5% efficiency and 250°C hot side temperature limit, it is possible to generate peak 1kW electrical energy from a heavy duty engine. If being equipped with 500W TEG, a passenger car has potential to save more than 2% fuel consumption and hence CO2 emission reduction. TEG has advantages of compact and motionless parts over other thermal harvest technologies such as Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) and Turbo-Compound (TC). Intense research works are being carried on improving the thermal efficiency of the thermoelectric materials and increasing the hot side temperature limit. Future thermoelectric modules are expected to have 10% to 20% efficiency and over 500°C hot side temperature limit. This paper presents the experimental results of a TEG that using skuterrudite thermoelectric materials. These materials were manufactured in the material lab of the University of Reading and then was fabricated into modules in the lab in Cardiff University. These thermoelectric materials can work up to as high as 500°C temperature and modules can work at maximum 400°C hot side temperature. The performance loss from materials to modules has been investigated and discussed in this paper. By assembling these modules into a plate type heat exchanger and testing it in the main exhaust of a 2l gasoline engine, the TEG performance has been improved in power density and total efficiency for a transient cycle compared to using the commercial modules.
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