TEGs, also referred to as thermoelectric generators, are machines that turn heat into electricity. Since they don’t have any moving parts, they are a sort of solid-state energy conversion technology that is incredibly dependable and long-lasting. The automotive, aerospace, and power-generating industries are just a few that have used TEGs. The workings of TEGs, their benefits and drawbacks, and their applications will all be covered in this article.
We shall go over the applications, benefits, and operating principles of TEGs in this article.
Thermoelectric generators work on the basis of the Seebeck effect, which posits that a temperature difference at the junction of two dissimilar metals or semiconductors will result in an electric potential difference. The two materials’ various electrical characteristics are what cause these phenomena. By moving electrons from the heated side of the junction to the unheated side, a voltage differential that can be exploited to produce electricity is produced.
Multiple thermoelectric couplings comprised of two different materials, such as n-type and p-type semiconductors, make up the fundamental building blocks of a TEG. A thermoelectric module is created by connecting these couplings thermally in parallel and electrically in series. A temperature differential is produced across each thermoelectric couple, resulting in a voltage difference, when one side of the module is exposed to a heat source, such as hot exhaust gas or a solar panel. while the other side is cooled, such as with a heat sink or ambient air. Due to the cumulative nature of the voltage each couple produces, the module as a whole has a larger output voltage.
Thermoelectric Generator Benefits:
TEGs provide a number of benefits over other energy conversion technologies, such as:
High Reliability: Since TEGs don’t have any moving components, they are incredibly dependable and long-lasting. They require little maintenance and can operate under challenging conditions.
Scalability: Depending on the needs of the application, TEGs can be readily scaled up or down. To enhance the output power, more modules can be connected in either series or parallel.
Low Maintenance: TEGs have a long service life and require little maintenance. They do not require frequent part replacement or lubrication.
Environmental friendliness: TEGs do not release any dangerous gasses or pollutants when in use, making them environmentally friendly. They can also use waste heat as a source of heat, minimizing the negative effects of other energy sources on the environment.
Thermoelectric Generators’ Harmful Qualities:
TEGs additionally have a few drawbacks that prevent their wide-scale adoption, such as
poor efficiency: TEGs have a poor conversion efficiency, often between 5 and 10%. The thermoelectric materials’ low thermal conductivity and high electrical resistivity, which regulate heat transport and electrical power generation, are to blame for this.
Price: Due to the high cost of thermoelectric materials and the production process, TEGs are quite expensive when compared to other energy conversion methods.
Limitations in Temperature: TEGs are only effective in a small temperature range, typically between 300 and 800 K. The voltage output is too low below this range, and the thermoelectric materials may deteriorate above this range.
Uses for Thermoelectric Generators:
TEGs have found use in a variety of industries, such as
Automotive: TEGs can be used to recover waste heat from engine exhaust and turn it into energy, lowering fuel use and pollutants.
Aerospace: Because of their excellent durability and low maintenance requirements, TEGs can be utilized to power satellites and spacecraft.
Power Production: In distant or off-grid regions, TEGs can be utilized to produce electricity from waste heat sources, such as geothermal or solar thermal energy.
Industrial: Waste heat from furnaces, boilers, and other heat sources can be recovered using TEGs in industrial applications, lowering energy costs and increasing efficiency.
Consumer Electronics: TEGs can be utilized in mobile devices, including smartphones and wearables, to produce electricity from body heat or the surrounding environment.
thermoelectric generators are a promising technological advancement that has a number of benefits, including high dependability, scalability, cheap maintenance, and environmental friendliness. Their high price and poor efficiency, however, prevent them from being widely used in many applications. The creation of more effective and affordable thermoelectric materials and manufacturing techniques is essential to advancing this technology as the need for clean and renewable energy sources increases.