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Entropy 2011, 13(8), 1481-1517; doi:10.3390/e13081481
Review

Thermodynamics of Thermoelectric Phenomena and Applications

1,* , 2
, 3
, 3
 and 4
1 Laboratoire CRISMAT, UMR 6508, Caen 14050, France 2 Institute of Physics, University Halle-Wittenberg, D-06099 Halle (Saale), Germany 3 Institute of Materials Research, German Aerospace Center (DLR), D-51170 Köln, Germany 4 California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 July 2011 / Revised: 15 July 2011 / Accepted: 29 July 2011 / Published: 15 August 2011
Download PDF [916 KB, 24 February 2015; original version 24 February 2015]

Abstract

Fifty years ago, the optimization of thermoelectric devices was analyzed by considering the relation between optimal performances and local entropy production. Entropy is produced by the irreversible processes in thermoelectric devices. If these processes could be eliminated, entropy production would be reduced to zero, and the limiting Carnot efficiency or coefficient of performance would be obtained. In the present review, we start with some fundamental thermodynamic considerations relevant for thermoelectrics. Based on a historical overview, we reconsider the interrelation between optimal performances and local entropy production by using the compatibility approach together with the thermodynamic arguments. Using the relative current density and the thermoelectric potential, we show that minimum entropy production can be obtained when the thermoelectric potential is a specific, optimal value.
Keywords: thermoelectricity; optimum device design; entropy production; compatibility approach; thermoelectric potential thermoelectricity; optimum device design; entropy production; compatibility approach; thermoelectric potential
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Goupil, C.; Seifert, W.; Zabrocki, K.; Müller, E.; Snyder, G.J. Thermodynamics of Thermoelectric Phenomena and Applications. Entropy 2011, 13, 1481-1517.

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