Combined rejected and naturally available heat constitute an enormous energy resource that remains mostly untapped. Thermal energy harvesting can provide a cost-effective and reliable way to convert available heat into mechanical motion or electricity. This extensive review analyzes the literature covering broad topical areas under solid-state low temperature thermal energy harvesting. These topics include thermoelectricity, pyroelectricity, thermomagneticity, and thermoelasticity. For each topical area, a detailed discussion is provided comprising of basic physics, working principle, performance characteristics, state-of-the-art materials, and current generation devices. Technical advancements reported in the literature are utilized to analyze the performance, identify the challenges, and provide guidance for material and mechanism selection. The review provides a detailed analysis of advantages and disadvantages of each energy harvesting mechanism, which will provide guidance towards designing a hybrid thermal energy harvester that can overcome various limitations of the individual mechanism.
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