Thermoelectric Generator has already started to make people think seriously about alternative energy power plants and low power generators for emergency and field applications , one of their main benefits when used as high power generators is that they make use of otherwise wasted heat and convert it into useful high electrical power that help to reduce monthly power bill and in the same time help in reducing pollution.
Low power thermoelectric generators ( below 100w ) are usually used as an emergency or for camping, hiking ,mountaineering and at home in times of power cut , mainly to charge cell phones , pads and lighting.
Principles and Brief Historical Background
All past and modern thermoelectric generators are designed and constructed based on the phenomenon of thermocouples which was first observed in 1821 by the German scientist Thomas Johann Seebeck. He noticed that when two wires of two dissimilar metals are joined from one end , an electrical voltage is produced between the two ends providing that one end is hotter than the other. Such a loop made with the two metals became known as a thermocouple and the phenomenon was named in honor of the German scientist and so named Seebeck effect. The voltage produced is very small ( few micro volts) , many thermocouples are required to manufacture small thermoelectric generator.
The efficiency of such thermoelectric generator did not exceed 3% as thermocouples were still made using metallic conductors .
Research continued to improve efficiency and with the advancement in semiconductor technology and the discovery of various semiconductor materials and components in the twentieth century, it became possible to construct the generators with efficiency up to 5% Early in this century efficiency of about 8% has been achieved.
1834 French Jean Charles Peltier discovered the opposite to Ssebeck theory as he noticed that when a current flows through a closed loop made up from two dissimilar metals, heat is transferred from one junction between the metals to the other and one junction heats up while the other cools down. This discovery is known as the Peltier effect and is considered as the basis for all thermoelectric Coolers ( Refrigeration ) which has no moving parts in comparison with conventional refrigerators.
Components of Thermoelectric Generator
Consist of the following Main components:
- Heat source
- TE module-also known as a Seebeck device.
- Cold-side which is the heat sink
- Electric load
Advantages of Thermoelectric Generators
- Thermo generators are simple, compact and safe.
- They are very reliable compared with other types of generators.
- They are environmentally friendly.
- They are flexible power sources
- Require no or little maintenance .
Uses of Thermoelectric Generators
- Largely used as portable power source to charge and operate various pads , all phones , 12V batteries, small refrigerators while travelling long distances and in remote camping sites.
- Used as a reliable emergency or backup power source for low power consumption house appliances and lighting in case of power cut .
- Used in remote uninhabited or inaccessible locations such as mountaintops, the vacuum of space, or the deep ocean.
- use of thermoelectric generators on gas pipelines. For example, for cathodic protection, radio communication, and other telemetry. On gas pipelines for power consumption of up to 5 kW thermal generators are preferable to other power sources.
- They are used primarily in remote and off-grid power for unmanned sites. They are the most reliable power generator in such situations as they do not have moving parts (thus virtually maintenance free) , perform under all weather conditions, and can work without battery backup. Although Solar Photovoltaic systems are also implemented in remote sites, Solar PV may not be a suitable solution where solar radiation is low, i.e. areas at higher latitudes with snow or no sunshine, areas with lots of cloud . dusty deserts, forests, etc.
- Cars and other automobiles produce waste heat (in the exhaust and in the cooling agents). Harvesting that heat energy, using a thermoelectric generator, can increase the fuel efficiency of the car. Many thermoelectric generator are produced in this respect.
- waste heat is also generated in many other places, such as in industrial processes and in heating (wood stoves, outdoor boilers, cooking, oil and gas fields, pipelines, and remote communication towers). Waste heat can be reused to generate electricity. In fact, several companies have begun projects in installing large quantities of these thermoelectric devices.
- Thermoelectric batteries powered by body heat are also used in portable medical monitoring devices.
Future Trends and Developments
- Rapid increase in demand for high power thermoelectric generators is expected as technological research and development will come up with more efficient heat exchangers and higher efficiency thermoelectric materials which need to have better thermal and electrical properties plus ability to withstand the stress of dealing with higher temperature gradients.
- Increase demand for these high power generators in many fields such as marine, aerospace, remote sensor locations and industrial plants.
- Increase use of low power micro thermoelectric generators in Wearables such as watches and wrist calculators.
- Increase use of these generators in consumer products such as gas operated heating system at homes and buildings in general as they can provide continuous operation even if power cut occur in adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes, earthquake and floods.
- Increase use in Automotive-trucks, buses and all types of small vehicles.
How to Select The Right Thermoelectric Generator or Cooler
The best way to select the most useful thermo generator to your needs is by checking reviews written by people that purchased and used it for some time. Most of the items listed in our store above has been reviewed by many people.
Listed below is brief rating of some of the most popular thermoelectric generators and coolers. Detailed priced list of all our products with more information and review of all the products is listed in the gallery page above.
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