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Materials 2010, 3(4), 2801-2814; doi:10.3390/ma3042801

Thermoelectric Oxide Modules (TOMs) for the Direct Conversion of Simulated Solar Radiation into Electrical Energy

1
Solid State Chemistry and Catalysis, EMPA, 8600 Duebendorf, Switzerland
2
Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
3
Solar Technology Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 January 2010 / Revised: 24 March 2010 / Accepted: 12 April 2010 / Published: 15 April 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Thermoelectric Materials and Applications)
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Abstract

The direct conversion of concentrated high temperature solar heat into electrical energy was demonstrated with a series of four–leg thermoelectric oxide modules (TOM). These temperature stable modules were not yet optimized for high efficiency conversion, but served as proof-of-principle for high temperature conversion. They were constructed by connecting two p- (La1.98Sr0.02CuO4) and two n-type (CaMn0.98Nb0.02O3) thermoelements electrically in series and thermally in parallel. The temperature gradient ΔT was applied by a High–Flux Solar Simulator source (HFSS) which generates a spectrum similar to solar radiation. The influence of the graphite layer coated on the hot side of the Al2O3 substrate compared to the uncoated surface on ΔT, Pmax and η was studied in detail. The measurements show an almost linear temperature profile along the thermoelectric legs. The maximum output power of 88.8 mW was reached for a TOM with leg length of 5 mm at ΔT = 622 K. The highest conversion efficiency η was found for a heat flux of 4–8 W cm-2 and the dependence of η on the leg length was investigated.
Keywords: thermoelectricity; thermoelectric converter; solar; heat transfer; radiation; modelling thermoelectricity; thermoelectric converter; solar; heat transfer; radiation; modelling
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tomeš, P.; Trottmann, M.; Suter, C.; Aguirre, M.H.; Steinfeld, A.; Haueter, P.; Weidenkaff, A. Thermoelectric Oxide Modules (TOMs) for the Direct Conversion of Simulated Solar Radiation into Electrical Energy. Materials 2010, 3, 2801-2814.

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