Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) exploiting the Seebeck effect provide a promising solution for waste heat recovery. Among the large number of thermoelectric (TE) materials, half-Heusler (hH) alloys are leading candidates for medium- to high-temperature power generation applications. However, the fundamental challenge in this field has been inhomogeneous material properties at large wafer diameters, insufficient power output from the modules, and rigid form factors of TE modules. This has restricted the transition of TEGs in practical applications for over three decades. Here, we successfully demonstrate large diameter wafers with uniform TE properties, high-power conformal hH TE modules for high-temperature application, and their direct integration on flue gas platforms, such as cylindrical tubes, to form large area flexible TEGs. This new conformal architecture design provides a breakthrough toward medium-/high-temperature TEGs over the conventional BiTe- and polymer-based flexible TEG design. A variable fill factor and greater flexibility due to the conformal design result in higher device performance as compared to conventional rigid TEG devices. Modules with 72-couple hH legs exhibit a device high-power-density of 3.13 W cm-2 and a total output power of 56.6 W under a temperature difference of 570 °C. These results provide a promising pathway toward widespread utilization of thermoelectric technology into the waste heat recovery application and will have a significant impact on the development of practical thermal to electrical converters.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
W.L. and B.P. acknowledge the financial support through the Army RIF program. H.B.K. acknowledges the financial support from the DARPA MATRIX program (NETS). A.N. acknowledges the financial support through the Office of Naval Research through grant number N00014-20-1-2602. H.Z. acknowledges the support from the Army Research Office through grant number W911NF1620010. C.D. acknowledges the support through the National Science Foundation IUCRC: Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems. S.P. acknowledges the financial support from the National Science Foundation through the I/UCRC Program. This work was authored in part by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the U.S. Government retains a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes.
- conformal device
- high temperature
- power density
- power generation
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article