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Special Issue "Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Shi Xue Dou

Australian Institute of Innovative Materials, University of Wollongong, North Wollongong, NSW 2500, Australia
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Guest Editor
Dr. Sima Aminorroaya-Yamini

Australian Institute of Innovative Materials, University of Wollongong, North Wollongong, NSW 2500, Australia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The journal “Energies” is organizing a Special Issue on Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting. This Special Issue aims to address recent progress on the technologies, chemistry, materials, and physics that are related to thermoelectricity, thermal energy conversion, and refrigeration.
Over the past decades, the field of thermoelectrics has been significantly energized through the emergence of high efficiency thermoelectric materials. Inspired by social, economic, and environmental states, scientists from all over the world have shown enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation, and have pushed the boundaries of knowledge regarding thermoelectric materials and devices.
We feel that now it is a good time to reflect on the most recent advances in this rapidly growing field, and to look at new prospects for future developments. As a recognized expert in the field, we invite you to contribute an original research article or a review on one of the following topics, which include, but are not limited to:

- Thermoelectric Materials, including skutterudites, oxides, pnictides, chalcogenides, Zintl compounds, silicides, Heusler compounds, clathrates, novel and organic materials
- Theoretical studies of bulk and low dimensional thermoelectric materials and physical phenomena
- Measurement and characterization of materials and devices
- Thermoelectric devices including design, fabrication and performance examination of modules and/or generators
- Thermoelectric device applications including refrigeration, automative, power generation, waste heat recovery and industrial applications

Prof. Dr. Shi Xue Dou
Dr. Sima Aminorroaya-Yamini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • thermoelectric materials fabrication
  • low dimensional materials
  • measurements and characterizations
  • theoretical study
  • thin films
  • device measurements
  • organic thermoelectrics
  • design and fabrication of modules
  • thermoelectric generators
  • device applications

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle A High Temperature Experimental Characterization Procedure for Oxide-Based Thermoelectric Generator Modules under Transient Conditions
Energies 2015, 8(11), 12839-12847; https://doi.org/10.3390/en81112341
Received: 15 July 2015 / Revised: 1 November 2015 / Accepted: 2 November 2015 / Published: 12 November 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2226 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to analyze the steady-state and transient behavior of the electrical and thermal parameters of thermoelectric generators (TEGs). The focus is on the required wait-time between measurements in order to reduce measurement errors which may appear until the [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to analyze the steady-state and transient behavior of the electrical and thermal parameters of thermoelectric generators (TEGs). The focus is on the required wait-time between measurements in order to reduce measurement errors which may appear until the system reaches steady-state. By knowing this waiting time, the total characterization time can also be reduced. The experimental characterization process is performed on a test rig known as TEGeta, which can be used to assess the output characteristics of TEG modules under different load values and temperature conditions. The setup offers the possibility to control the hot side temperature up to 1000 °C with a load variation range value between 0.22–8.13 Ω. A total of ten thermocouples are placed in the setup with the purpose of measuring the temperature in specific points between the heater and the heat sink. Based on the readings, the temperature on the hot and cold side of the modules can be extrapolated. This study provides quantitative data on the minimum waiting time of the temperatures in the surrounding system to reach equilibrium. Laboratory tests are performed on a calcium-manganese oxide module at temperatures between 400 and 800 °C to explore the high temperatures features of the setup. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle The Influence of Non-Uniform High Heat Flux on Thermal Stress of Thermoelectric Power Generator
Energies 2015, 8(11), 12584-12602; https://doi.org/10.3390/en81112332
Received: 6 September 2015 / Revised: 24 October 2015 / Accepted: 28 October 2015 / Published: 6 November 2015
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (9608 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A thermoelectric generator (TEG) device which uses solar energy as heat source would achieve higher efficiency if there is a higher temperature difference between the hot-cold ends. However, higher temperature or higher heat flux being imposed upon the hot end will cause strong [...] Read more.
A thermoelectric generator (TEG) device which uses solar energy as heat source would achieve higher efficiency if there is a higher temperature difference between the hot-cold ends. However, higher temperature or higher heat flux being imposed upon the hot end will cause strong thermal stress, which will have a negative influence on the life cycle of the thermoelectric module. Meanwhile, in order to get high heat flux, a Fresnel lens is required to concentrate solar energy, which will cause non-uniformity of heat flux on the hot end of the TEG and further influence the thermal stress of the device. This phenomenon is very common in solar TEG devices but seldom research work has been reported. In this paper, numerical analysis on the heat transfer and thermal stress performance of a TEG module has been performed considering the variation on the power of the heat flux being imposed upon the hot-end; the influence of non-uniform high heat flux on thermal stress has also been analyzed. It is found that non-uniformity of high heat flux being imposed upon the hot end has a significant effect on the thermal stress of TEG and life expectation of the device. Taking the uniformity of 100% as standard, when the heating uniformity is 70%, 50%, 30%, and 10%, respectively, the maximum thermal stress of TEG module increased by 3%, 6%, 12%, and 22% respectively. If we increase the heat flux on the hot end, the influence of non-uniformity on the thermal stress will be more remarkable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Thermoelectric Properties of Alumina-Doped Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 Nanocomposites Prepared through Mechanical Alloying and Vacuum Hot Pressing
Energies 2015, 8(11), 12573-12583; https://doi.org/10.3390/en81112323
Received: 20 July 2015 / Revised: 17 October 2015 / Accepted: 23 October 2015 / Published: 6 November 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (4481 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, γ-Al2O3 particles were dispersed in p-type Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 through mechanical alloying to form γ-Al2O3/Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 composite powders. The composite powders were consolidated using vacuum [...] Read more.
In this study, γ-Al2O3 particles were dispersed in p-type Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 through mechanical alloying to form γ-Al2O3/Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 composite powders. The composite powders were consolidated using vacuum hot pressing to produce nano- and microstructured composites. Thermoelectric (TE) measurements indicated that adding an optimal amount of γ-Al2O3 nanoparticles improves the TE performance of the fabricated composites. High TE performances with figure of merit (ZT) values as high as 1.22 and 1.21 were achieved at 373 and 398 K for samples containing 1 and 3 wt % γ-Al2O3 nanoparticles, respectively. These ZT values are higher than those of monolithic Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 samples. The ZT values of the fabricated samples at 298–423 K are 1.0–1.22; these ZT characteristics make γ-Al2O3/Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 composites suitable for power generation applications because no other material with a similarly high ZT value has been reported at this temperature range. The achieved high ZT value may be attributable to the unique nano- and microstructures in which γ-Al2O3 nanoparticles are dispersed among the grain boundary or in the matrix grain, as revealed by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. The dispersed γ-Al2O3 nanoparticles thus increase phonon scattering sites and reduce thermal conductivity. The results indicated that the nano- and microstructured γ-Al2O3/Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 alloy can serve as a high-performance material for application in TE devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Enhancing Thermoelectric Properties of Si80Ge20 Alloys Utilizing the Decomposition of NaBH4 in the Spark Plasma Sintering Process
Energies 2015, 8(10), 10958-10970; https://doi.org/10.3390/en81010958
Received: 17 July 2015 / Revised: 8 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 September 2015 / Published: 29 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1569 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The thermoelectric properties of spark plasma sintered, ball-milled, p-type Si80Ge20-(NaBH4)x (x = 0.7,1.7 and 2.7), and Si80Ge20B1.7-y-(NaBH4)y (y = 0.2 and 0.7) samples have been investigated [...] Read more.
The thermoelectric properties of spark plasma sintered, ball-milled, p-type Si80Ge20-(NaBH4)x (x = 0.7,1.7 and 2.7), and Si80Ge20B1.7-y-(NaBH4)y (y = 0.2 and 0.7) samples have been investigated from 30 K to 1100 K. These samples were prepared by spark plasma sintering of an admixture of Si, Ge, B and NaBH4 powders. In particular, the degasing process during the spark plasma sintering process, the combined results of X-ray powder diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, Hall coefficient, electrical resistivity, and Seebeck coefficient measurements indicated that NaBH4 decomposed into Na, B, Na2B29, and H2 during the spark plasma sintering process; Na and B were doped into the SiGe lattice, resulting in favorable changes in the carrier concentration and the power factor. In addition, the ball milling process and the formation of Na2B29 nanoparticles resulted in stronger grain boundary scattering of heat-carrying phonons, leading to a reduced lattice thermal conductivity. As a result, a significant improvement in the figure of merit ZT (60%) was attained in p-type Si80Ge20-(NaBH4)1.7 and Si80Ge20-B1.5(NaBH4)0.7 at 1100 K as compared to the p-type B-doped Si80Ge20 material used in the NASA’s radioactive thermoelectric generators. This single-step “doping-nanostructuring” procedure can possibly be applied to other thermoelectric materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Investigation of the Promotion of Wind Power Consumption Using the Thermal-Electric Decoupling Techniques
Energies 2015, 8(8), 8613-8629; https://doi.org/10.3390/en8088613
Received: 5 June 2015 / Revised: 5 July 2015 / Accepted: 6 August 2015 / Published: 13 August 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (668 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the provinces of north China, combined heat and electric power generations (CHP) are widely utilized to provide both heating source and electricity. While, due to the constraint of thermal-electric coupling within CHP, a mass of wind turbines have to offline operate during [...] Read more.
In the provinces of north China, combined heat and electric power generations (CHP) are widely utilized to provide both heating source and electricity. While, due to the constraint of thermal-electric coupling within CHP, a mass of wind turbines have to offline operate during heating season to maintain the power grid stability. This paper proposes a thermal-electric decoupling (TED) approach to release the energy waste. Within the thermal-electric decoupling system, heat storage and electric boiler/heat pump are introduced to provide an auxiliary thermal source during hard peak shaving period, thus relying on the participation of an outside heat source, the artificial electric power output change interval could be widened to adopt more wind power and reduce wind power curtailment. Both mathematic models and methods are proposed to calculate the evaluation indexes to weight the effect of TED, by using the Monte Carlo simulation technique. Numerical simulations have been conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methods, and the results show that the proposed approach could relieve up to approximately 90% of wind power curtailment and the ability of power system to accommodate wind power could be promoted about 32%; moreover, the heating source is extended, about 300 GJ heat could be supplied by TED during the whole heating season, which accounts for about 18% of the total heat need. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Study on Pyroelectric Harvesters Integrating Solar Radiation with Wind Power
Energies 2015, 8(7), 7465-7477; https://doi.org/10.3390/en8077465
Received: 6 June 2015 / Revised: 1 July 2015 / Accepted: 16 July 2015 / Published: 22 July 2015
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (3775 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pyroelectric harvesters use temperature fluctuations to generate electrical outputs. Solar radiation and waste heat are rich energy sources that can be harvested. Pyroelectric energy converters offer a novel and direct energy-conversion technology by transforming time-dependent temperatures directly into electricity. Moreover, the great challenge [...] Read more.
Pyroelectric harvesters use temperature fluctuations to generate electrical outputs. Solar radiation and waste heat are rich energy sources that can be harvested. Pyroelectric energy converters offer a novel and direct energy-conversion technology by transforming time-dependent temperatures directly into electricity. Moreover, the great challenge for pyroelectric energy harvesting lies in finding promising temperature variations or an alternating thermal loading in real situations. Hence, in this article, a novel pyroelectric harvester integrating solar radiation with wind power by the pyroelectric effect is proposed. Solar radiation is a thermal source, and wind is a dynamic potential. A disk generator is used for harvesting wind power. A mechanism is considered to convert the rotary energy of the disk generator to drive a shutter for generating temperature variations in pyroelectric cells using a planetary gear system. The optimal period of the pyroelectric cells is 35 s to harvest the stored energy, about 70 μJ, while the rotary velocity of the disk generator is about 31 RPM and the wind speed is about 1 m/s. In this state, the stored energy acquired from the pyroelectric harvester is about 75% more than that from the disk generator. Although the generated energy of the proposed pyroelectric harvester is less than that of the disk generator, the pyroelectric harvester plays a complementary role when the disk generator is inactive in situations of low wind speed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Investigation of the Anisotropic Thermoelectric Properties of Oriented Polycrystalline SnSe
Energies 2015, 8(7), 6275-6285; https://doi.org/10.3390/en8076275
Received: 31 March 2015 / Revised: 8 June 2015 / Accepted: 12 June 2015 / Published: 25 June 2015
Cited by 58 | PDF Full-text (1775 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Polycrystalline SnSe was synthesized by a melting-annealing-sintering process. X-ray diffraction reveals the sample possesses pure phase and strong orientation along [h00] direction. The degree of the orientations was estimated and the anisotropic thermoelectric properties are characterized. The polycrystalline sample shows a [...] Read more.
Polycrystalline SnSe was synthesized by a melting-annealing-sintering process. X-ray diffraction reveals the sample possesses pure phase and strong orientation along [h00] direction. The degree of the orientations was estimated and the anisotropic thermoelectric properties are characterized. The polycrystalline sample shows a low electrical conductivity and a positive and large Seebeck coefficient. The low thermal conductivity is also observed in polycrystalline sample, but slightly higher than that of single crystal. The minimum value of thermal conductivity was measured as 0.3 W/m·K at 790 K. With the increase of the orientation factor, both electrical and thermal conductivities decrease, but the thermopowers are unchanged. As a consequence, the zT values remain unchanged in the polycrystalline samples despite the large variation in the degree of orientation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Simulation of a Standalone, Portable Steam Generator Driven by a Solar Concentrator
Energies 2015, 8(5), 3867-3881; https://doi.org/10.3390/en8053867
Received: 9 February 2015 / Revised: 10 April 2015 / Accepted: 14 April 2015 / Published: 5 May 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1245 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Solar energy is a good solution for energy-deficiency problems, especially in regions such ‎as rural areas in the Middle East that have not been electrified yet or are ‎under electrification. In ‎this paper, with the aid of a Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation, we [...] Read more.
Solar energy is a good solution for energy-deficiency problems, especially in regions such ‎as rural areas in the Middle East that have not been electrified yet or are ‎under electrification. In ‎this paper, with the aid of a Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation, we propose a ‎system that comprises a trough solar concentrator and a pipe—with flowing water—that ‎is set in the concentrator focus. The aim of this work is to investigate the feasibility of generating steam ‎from such a system as well as analyzing the generated steam quantitatively ‎and qualitatively. Effects of variation of solar radiation intensity, ambient temperature, water ‎flow rate and pipe diameter on the quantity and quality of the generated steam have been investigated. The results ‎show that a quantity of about 130 kg of steam could be generated per day with a 0.01 m diameter with 0.0042 kg/s flowing water, although qualitatively, a narrower pipe achieves better performance than a wider one. About 74 kg of daily accumulated steam mass with a temperature >423 K could be achieved for a 0.005 m diameter tube compared to about 50 kg for the 0.01 m diameter tube. Steam quality factor is higher at all flow rates for the 0.005 m diameter tube compared to that of 0.01 m. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Open AccessArticle Pyroelectric Harvesters for Generating Cyclic Energy
Energies 2015, 8(5), 3489-3502; https://doi.org/10.3390/en8053489
Received: 10 February 2015 / Revised: 6 April 2015 / Accepted: 21 April 2015 / Published: 27 April 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2474 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pyroelectric energy conversion is a novel energy process which directly transforms waste heat energy from cyclic heating into electricity via the pyroelectric effect. Application of a periodic temperature profile to pyroelectric cells is necessary to achieve temperature variation rates for generating an electrical [...] Read more.
Pyroelectric energy conversion is a novel energy process which directly transforms waste heat energy from cyclic heating into electricity via the pyroelectric effect. Application of a periodic temperature profile to pyroelectric cells is necessary to achieve temperature variation rates for generating an electrical output. The critical consideration in the periodic temperature profile is the frequency or work cycle which is related to the properties and dimensions of the air layer; radiation power and material properties, as well as the dimensions and structure of the pyroelectric cells. This article aims to optimize pyroelectric harvesters by matching all these requirements. The optimal induced charge per period increases about 157% and the efficient period band decreases about 77%, when the thickness of the PZT cell decreases from 200 μm to 50 μm, about a 75% reduction. Moreover, when using the thinner PZT cell for harvesting the pyroelectric energy it is not easy to focus on a narrow band with the efficient period. However, the optimal output voltage and stored energy per period decrease about 50% and 74%, respectively, because the electrical capacitance of the 50 μm thick pyroelectric cell is about four times greater than that of the 200 μm thick pyroelectric cell. In addition, an experiment is used to verify that the work cycle to be able to critically affect the efficiency of PZT pyroelectric harvesters. Periods in the range between 3.6 s and 12.2 s are useful for harvesting thermal cyclic energy by pyroelectricity. The optimal frequency or work cycle can be applied in the design of a rotating shutter in order to control the heated and unheated periods of the pyroelectric cells to further enhance the amount of stored energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Extrapolation of Transport Properties and Figure of Merit of a Thermoelectric Material
Energies 2015, 8(7), 6451-6467; https://doi.org/10.3390/en8076451
Received: 11 May 2015 / Accepted: 15 June 2015 / Published: 26 June 2015
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (356 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The accurate determination of the thermoelectric properties of a material becomes increasingly difficult as the temperature rises. However, it is the properties at elevated temperatures that are important if thermoelectric generator efficiency is to be improved. It is shown that the dimensionless figure [...] Read more.
The accurate determination of the thermoelectric properties of a material becomes increasingly difficult as the temperature rises. However, it is the properties at elevated temperatures that are important if thermoelectric generator efficiency is to be improved. It is shown that the dimensionless figure of merit, ZT, might be expected to rise with temperature for a given material provided that minority carrier conduction can be avoided. It is, of course, also necessary that the material should remain stable over the whole operating range. We show that the prediction of high temperature properties in the extrinsic region is possible if the temperature dependence of carrier mobility and lattice thermal conductivity are known. Also, we show how the undesirable effects arising from mixed or intrinsic conduction can be calculated from the energy gap and the relative mobilities of the electrons and the positive holes. The processes involved are discussed in general terms and are illustrated for different systems. These comprise the bismuth telluride alloys, silicon-germanium alloys, magnesium-silicon-tin and higher manganese silicide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting)
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