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Sensors 2016, 16(12), 2114;

An Extensive Unified Thermo-Electric Module Characterization Method

Departement of Electrical and Information Engineering, Politecnico di Bari, Via Orabona 4, I-70125 Bari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Leonhard M. Reindl
Received: 11 October 2016 / Revised: 30 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 13 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sensor Networks)
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Thermo-Electric Modules (TEMs) are being increasingly used in power generation as a valid alternative to batteries, providing autonomy to sensor nodes or entire Wireless Sensor Networks, especially for energy harvesting applications. Often, manufacturers provide some essential parameters under determined conditions, like for example, maximum temperature difference between the surfaces of the TEM or for maximum heat absorption, but in many cases, a TEM-based system is operated under the best conditions only for a fraction of the time, thus, when dynamic working conditions occur, the performance estimation of TEMs is crucial to determine their actual efficiency. The focus of this work is on using a novel procedure to estimate the parameters of both the electrical and thermal equivalent model and investigate their relationship with the operating temperature and the temperature gradient. The novelty of the method consists in the use of a simple test configuration to stimulate the modules and simultaneously acquire electrical and thermal data to obtain all parameters in a single test. Two different current profiles are proposed as possible stimuli, which use depends on the available test instrumentation, and relative performance are compared both quantitatively and qualitatively, in terms of standard deviation and estimation uncertainty. Obtained results, besides agreeing with both technical literature and a further estimation method based on module specifications, also provides the designer a detailed description of the module behavior, useful to simulate its performance in different scenarios. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermoelectric modules; characterization; energy harvesting thermoelectric modules; characterization; energy harvesting

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Attivissimo, F.; Guarnieri Calò Carducci, C.; Lanzolla, A.M.L.; Spadavecchia, M. An Extensive Unified Thermo-Electric Module Characterization Method. Sensors 2016, 16, 2114.

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