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TitleAnalysis of the effect of module thickness reduction on thermoelectric generator output
Author(s)Brito, F.P.
Figueiredo, L.
Rocha, Luís Alexandre Machado
Cruz, A. P.
Gonçalves, L. M.
Martins, Jorge
Hall, M. J.
KeywordsThermoelectric generators
TEG modeling
Module geometry
Contact resistance
Thermal modeling
Power maximization
Issue dateMar-2016
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Abstract(s)Conventional thermoelectric generators (TEGs) used in applications such as exhaust heat recovery are typically limited in terms of power density due to their low efficiency. Additionally, they are generally costly due to the bulk use of rare-earth elements such as tellurium. If less material could be used for the same output, then the power density and the overall cost per kilowatt (kW) of electricity produced could drop significantly, making TEGs a more attractive solution for energy harvesting of waste heat. The present work assesses the effect of reducing the amount of thermoelectric (TE) material used (namely by reducing the module thickness) on the electrical output of conventional bismuth telluride TEGs. Commercial simulation packages (ANSYS CFX and thermal-electric) and bespoke models were used to simulate the TEGs at various degrees of detail. Effects such as variation of the thermal and electrical contact resistance and the component thickness and the effect of using an element supporting matrix (e.g., eggcrate) instead of having air conduction in void areas have been assessed. It was found that indeed it is possible to reduce the use of bulk TE material while retaining power output levels equivalent to thicker modules. However, effects such as thermal contact resistance were found to become increasingly important as the active TE material thickness was decreased.
AccessRestricted access (UMinho)
Appears in Collections:DEI - Artigos em revistas internacionais

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