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Thermoelectric Generators

Thermoelectric generators are also called as seebeck generators.


The Seebeck effect is used in thermoelectric generators, which
function like heat engines.
They are less bulky, have no moving parts, and are typically more
expensive and less efficient.
They have a use in power plants for converting waste heat into
additional electrical power (a form of energy recycling) and in
automobiles as automotive thermoelectric generators (ATGs) for
increasing fuel efficiency.

The efficiency of thermocouple generator is


T T C
= H .(1)
TH
Where,
- depends on the geometry of the device, properties of the materials
used and matching of generator to load.

The electric resistance R is

lA lB
R= + .. (2)
AA A AB B

The heat conduction is


A A A AB B
= lA + lB . (3)
Where ,
A- Area of cross section of each arm
l Length of each arm
Electric conductivity
Thermal Conductivity

The heat power supplied by heat source

1
PH ( TH TC I RI 2
= - )+ 2 (4)

Where,
Peltier coefficient

= T H .. (5)
Seebeck coefficient
Substitute eq (5) in (4)
1 2
PH = ( T H - TC ) + T H I RI . (6)
2

The current through the load is


V
I=
R

(T H - T C )
So, I= (7)
R + RL

Where,

Voltage developed by thermocouple is V = (T H - T C )

Power delivered to the load is PL =I 2 R L

2 2
(T H - T C )
PL RL
= (R+ R L )
2 . (8)

The efficiency of the device is


Output power
=
Input power

PL
= . (9)
PH

2 (T H - T C )2
RL
(R + R L )2
= (10)
1
( T H - T C )+ T H I RI 2
2

1
(R+ R L )2 [ ( T H - T C )+ T H I RI 2
2
2 2
(T H - T C ) R L .. (11)
=

Take ( T H -T C ) as common in the denominator of eq (11)

T

T

H - T C )

T



T H I
+

( R+ R L )2
2 (T H -T C )2 R L
=
T

T

H - T C )

T



T H I
+

( R+ R L )2
2 (T H -T C )2 R L
=

T

H - T C ) R L

T

H - T C )

T



T H I
+

2
=

T

H - T C ) RL

T

H - T C )

T



T H I (R+ R L )2
( R+ R L )2 +


2
=
Sub the value of I (eq (7)) in eq (13)

T

H - T C ) R L

(T H - T C )
T H (
R+ R L
( R+ R L )2 + ( R+ R L )2

T

H - T C )

R+ R L


2

2

T

2
(T H - T C )
R




2

=

T

H - T C ) R L

T

H -T C )

R+ R L


T


( R+ R L )
T 2 (T H - T C )(R+ R L )2
( R+ R L )2 + H

2
=
T

H - T C ) R L

T

H -T C )

R+ R L


T


( R+ R L )
2 T H 2 (T H - T C )(R+ R L )2
( R+ R L ) +

2
=

T

H - T C ) R L

2

=

2
Take TH as common in the denominator of equation (14)

T

H - T C ) R L

2

=

T

H - T C ) R L

2
=
T

H - T C ) R L


=

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=
T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

Now substitute R L=mR in eq (16)

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )

R
( 2+ R 2 m2 +2 m R2 ) R RTC
+1+ +
2
T H mR 2mR 2TH mR




=

[ where, (a+b)2 =a2 + b2


+2ab ]
T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=

[ Where, (a+b)2 =a2 + b2 +2ab; (12 +


2
m + 2m =(1+m) 2]

T

H - T C )


=

2
Figure of merit is, Z= (18)
R

Substitute equation (18) in eq (17)

T

H - T C )


=

T

H - T C )


=
T

H - T C )
The Carnot efficiency is

Carnot =

Substitute eq (20) in eq (19)


1

=Carnot
[ ( )
1+
1
2m
1+
T C (1+m)2
+
TH Z TH m

] .(21)

1
Where , = ..(22)

[ ( )
1+
1
2m
1+
T C (1+m)2
+
TH ZTH m ]
Substitute eq (22) in eq (21), We get

=Carnot . (23)

If Z increases the efficiency also increases, If Z ->

1
= ..(24)

[ ( )]
1+
1
2m
T
1+ C
TH

Three different considerations in optimizing the efficiency of a


thermocouple are,
Choice of appropriate material in order to maximize Z.
Choice of the best geometry in order to minimize R .
Choice of the proper value of the load resistance relative to the
internal resistance of the device.