Improved Thermoelectric Generator Performance Using High Temperature Thermoelectric Materials 2017-01-0121
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 synthesis procedure of both p-type and n-type skutterudite thermoelectric materials and the fabrication procedure of the thermoelectric modules using this material. These skutterudite materials were manufactured in the chemical lab in 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 the corresponding 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 using a validated TEG model, the performance improvement using these modules has been estimated compared to commercial Bisemous Telluride modules.