Research and development paved the way to manufacture a 25 KW thermoelectric generator using waste heat source as an input to its hot side. It is assembled in a shipping container with an input pipe on one side and ready wiring to connect to the main electrical switch board . One manufacturer that I came across recently is Alphabet Energy, they claim that it is the only one of its kind available in the market. The main part of this generator consist of racks of thermoelectric solid state modules calculated to produce the above mentioned out put power. It is expected to produce reasonable amount of electrical power with good reliability and can be extended in the future.
This is a good brake through in a field where progress been going quite slow until the beginning of this century but research and development has been going faster during the past ten years and reasonable progress has been achieved with many power thermoelectric generators suitable to connect to waste heat out put of power plants , industrial plants , gas , oil and mining companies .
In the same time research and experimenting continue at some automobile manufacturing companies to successfully connect a waste heat thermoelectric generator of suitable rating and using relatively small solid state modules to the exhaust pipe of vehicles in order to aid the vehicle alternator and hence get some saving in fuel consumption, possibly it won’t be long for us to wait until we will see a vehicle on the road with such a system working in it efficiently. This arrangement is particularly useful for heavy vehicles such as inter state trucks , transport buses and small vehicles travelling long distances.
More work need to be done to increase the efficiency of waste heat thermoelectric generators by discovering more suitable solid state materials with better properties and higher figure of merit so that the over all cost of the vehicle will not increase but by small percentage in order to attract more consumers. Researchers in Universities are optimistic that fuel consumption of vehicles can be reduces by about 10% which is substantial amount and will certainly improve the performance of most vehicles.
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