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Technical Paper

Towards Optimal Performance of a Thermoelectric Generator for Exhaust Waste Heat Recovery from an Automotive Engine

2018-04-03
2018-01-0050
Thermoelectric generator has very quickly become a hot research topic in the last five years because its broad application area and very attractive features such as no moving parts, low maintenance, variety of thermoelectric materials that total together cover a wide temperature range. The biggest disadvantage of the thermoelectric generator is its low conversion efficiency. So that when design and manufacture a thermoelectric generator for exhaust waste heat recovery from an automotive engine, the benefit of fuel consumption from applying a thermoelectric generator would be very sensitive to the weight, the dimensions, the cost and the practical conversion efficiency. Additionally, the exhaust gas conditions vary with the change of engine operating point. This creates a big challenge for the design of the hot side heat exchanger in terms of optimizing the electrical output of the thermoelectric generator during an engine transient cycle.
Technical Paper

Improved Thermoelectric Generator Performance Using High Temperature Thermoelectric Materials

2017-03-28
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.
Technical Paper

A Comparison of Four Modelling Techniques for Thermoelectric Generator

2017-03-28
2017-01-0144
The application of state-of-art thermoelectric generator (TEG) in automotive engine has potential to reduce more than 2% fuel consumption and hence the CO2 emissions. This figure is expected to be increased to 5%~10% in the near future when new thermoelectric material with higher properties is fabricated. However, in order to maximize the TEG output power, there are a few issues need to be considered in the design stage such as the number of modules, the connection of modules, the geometry of the thermoelectric module, the DC-DC converter circuit, the geometry of the heat exchanger especially the hot side heat exchanger etc. These issues can only be investigated via a proper TEG model. The authors introduced four ways of TEG modelling which in the increasing complexity order are MATLB function based model, MATLAB Simscape based Simulink model, GT-power TEG model and CFD STAR-CCM+ model. Both Simscape model and GT-Power model have intrinsic dynamic model performance.
Technical Paper

Optimization of the Number of Thermoelectric Modules in a Thermoelectric Generator for a Specific Engine Drive Cycle

2016-04-05
2016-01-0232
Two identical commercial Thermo-Electric Modules (TEMs) were assembled on a plate type heat exchanger to form a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) unit in this study. This unit was tested on the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) flow path of a test engine. The data collected from the test was used to develop and validate a steady state, zero dimensional numerical model of the TEG. Using this model and the EGR path flow conditions from a 30% torque Non-Road Transient Cycle (NRTC) engine test, an optimization of the number of TEM units in this TEG device was conducted. The reduction in fuel consumption during the transient test cycle was estimated based on the engine instantaneous Brake Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC). The perfect conversion of TEG recovered electrical energy to engine shaft mechanical energy was assumed. Simulations were performed for a single TEG unit (i.e. 2 TEMs) to up to 50 TEG units (i.e. 100 TEMs).
Technical Paper

The Influence of Thermoelectric Materials and Operation Conditions on the Performance of Thermoelectric Generators for Automotive

2016-04-05
2016-01-0219
An automotive engine can be more efficient if thermoelectric generators (TEG) are used to convert a portion of the exhaust gas enthalpy into electricity. Due to the relatively low cost of the incoming thermal energy, the efficiency of the TEG is not an overriding consideration. Instead, the maximum power output (MPO) is the first priority. The MPO of the TEG is closely related to not only the thermoelectric materials properties, but also the operating conditions. This study shows the development of a numerical TEG model integrated with a plate-fin heat exchanger, which is designed for automotive waste heat recovery (WHR) in the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) path in a diesel engine. This model takes into account the following factors: the exhaust gas properties’ variation along the flow direction, temperature influence on the thermoelectric materials, thermal contact effect, and heat transfer leakage effect. Its accuracy has been checked using engine test data.
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