Mechanical engineers at the University of California, Riverside, have successfully used inexpensive materials to produce thermoelectric devices that transform low-level waste heat into electricity. While thermoelectric generators have been highly dependable—for example powering space probes such as the Voyager spacecraft for decades—their use has been limited by the expense and... Read more →

MIT researchers have discovered a way to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials threefold by using “topological” materials, which have unique electronic properties. While past work has suggested that topological materials may serve as efficient thermoelectric systems, there has been little understanding as to how electrons in such topological materials... Read more →

Stena Line seeking novel approaches to recover energy from exhaust gases from ship engines

Stena Line is seeking novel, cost-effective approaches to recover energy from exhaust gases from ship engines and to transform it into a more useful energy form (e.g., electricity to supply hotel loads on board the ship). Stena Line said that it is especially interested in industrial-scale applications of thermoelectric generators... Read more →

WSU team develops van der Waals Schottky junctions with significantly enhanced thermoelectric properties

A team at Washington State University (WSU), with colleagues from the University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, has developed a multicomponent, multilayered In2Se3composite material van der Waals Schottky diode. Besides ideal diode behaviors and the gate-tunable current rectification, thermoelectric power is significantly enhanced in these junctions by more... Read more →

MAHLE acquires thermoelectric generator start-up O-Flexx

The MAHLE Group is expanding its expertise in the field of thermoelectrics by acquiring the start-up O-Flexx Technologies. O-Flexx specializes in thermoelectric generators; its R&D center and production facilities for both low- and high-temperature modules are based in Duisburg, Germany. The purchase price will not be disclosed. O-Flexx Technologies offers... Read more →

The Institute of Vehicle Concepts at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt, DLR) is, together with the Japanese company Yamaha Corporation, developing special vehicle systems based on thermoelectric effects. The aim of the cooperation is to develop prototype thermoelectric generator modules for on-road and rail vehicles. Yamaha... Read more →

Japan researchers successfully synthesize new lightweight thermoelectric material

Researchers at the Materials Function Control Laboratory at the Toyohashi University of Technology and the Nagoya Institute of Technology have successfully synthesized a new thermoelectric material, CaMgSi, an intermetallic compound. The key to this development was the synthesis procedure; bulk CaMgSi intermetallic compound was synthesized by combining mechanical ball-milling (MM)... Read more →

AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, together with other partners of the EU project JOSPEL, funded by the Horizon 2020 Program under Grant Agreement Nº 653851, has developed an innovative heating system for electric vehicles consisting of thermoplastic heating panels which can be placed in different parts of the car, thus... Read more →

Researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) have developed a graphene-based nano-rectifier (“ballistic rectifier”) that can convert waste heat to electricity. The nano-rectifier was built by a team led by Professor Aimin Song and Dr. Ernie Hill, in collaboration with a team at Shandong University (China). The device exploits graphene’s... Read more →

NEC Corporation, NEC TOKIN Corporation and TOHOKU UNIVERSITY have jointly created a thermoelectric (TE) device using the spin Seebeck effect (SSE) with conversion efficiency 10 times higher than a test module that was produced based on a multi-layered SSE technology published by the Tohoku University group in 2015. The spin-Seebeck... Read more →

NREL reveals thermoelectric potential for tailored semiconducting carbon nanotubes

A finely tuned carbon nanotube thin film has the potential to act as a thermoelectric power generator that captures and uses waste heat, according to researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The research could help guide the manufacture of thermoelectric devices based on either single-walled carbon... Read more →

Alphabet Energy is commercializing low-cost, efficient thermoelectric materials for power generation leveraging technology initially developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Earlier post.) The company has now announced characterization from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM of heat flow and thermal resistance (in air) of the Alphabet Energy... Read more →

A team led by a group of researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has experimentally confirmed strong in-plane anisotropy—i.e., directional dependence—in thermal conductivity, up to a factor of two, along the zigzag and armchair directions of single-crystal black phosphorous nanoribbons. This new... Read more →

Manchester team greatly broadens thermal window of thermoelectric material using graphene; potential vehicle applications for waste heat recovery

Researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) have shown that the thermal operating window of the thermoelectric material lanthanum strontium titanium oxide (LSTO) can be expanded down to room temperature by addition of a small amount of graphene. Applications of LSTO-based thermoelectric materials are currently limited by their high operating... Read more →

Alphabet Energy introduces PowerModules for modular thermoelectric waste heat recovery; partnership with Borla for heavy-duty trucks

Alphabet Energy, founded in 2009 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, announced the availability of its thermoelectric generator PowerModule as a standalone product, available to meet the specific application needs of a range of industries, including transportation. The company also announced it will partner with Borla jointly to develop and to... Read more →

Sandia researchers demonstrate thermoelectric behavior in a MOF

Sandia National Laboratories researchers, with colleagues at the University of Virginia, have made the first measurements of thermoelectric behavior by a nanoporous metal-organic framework (MOF), a development that could lead to an entirely new class of materials for such applications as cooling computer chips and cameras and energy harvesting. “These... Read more →

Evident Thermoelectrics acquires GMZ Energy

In a major expansion move, Evident Thermoelectrics has purchased the assets of GMZ Energy, Inc. a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) systems, in an acquisition that includes all patents, equipment, product lines, website, customer contacts and brand. In December 2014, GMZ had successfully demonstrated a 1kW TEG designed... Read more →

Researchers at MIT are predicting that predict that suitable chemical functionalization of graphene can result in a large enhancement in the Seebeck coefficient for thermoelectric materials, leading to an increase in the room-temperature power factor of a factor of 2 compared to pristine graphene, despite degraded electrical conductivity. Furthermore, the... Read more →

Researchers in South Korea at IBS Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics along with Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, the Department of Nano Applied Engineering at Kangwon National University, the Department of Energy Science at Sungkyunkwan University, and Materials Science department at CalTech have developed a new method for creating a... Read more →

Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are proposing that it is possible to design an efficient graphene-cathode-based thermionic energy converter (TIC)—a device for converting heat to electricity leveraging the phenomenon of thermionic emission, or the release of electrons from a hot body—operating at around 900 K... Read more →

GMZ Energy, a market leader in the development of high-temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has successfully demonstrated a 1,000W TEG designed for diesel engine exhaust heat recapture in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. (Earlier post.) This announcement follows GMZ’s June 2014 demonstration of its 200W diesel TEG. The company integrated five... Read more →

A team of researchers from Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has discovered an entirely new form of crystalline order that simultaneously exhibits both crystal and polycrystalline properties, which they describe as “interlaced crystals.” The interlaced crystal arrangement has properties that could make it ideal for thermoelectric applications.... Read more →

GMZ Energy develops new thermoelectric material with lower raw material costs, higher power output; Hafnium-free p-type half-Heusler

Researchers at GMZ Energy, a provider of nano-structured thermoelectric generation (TEG) power solutions for mobile and stationary waste-heat recovery (earlier post), with their colleagues at the University of Houston and Bosch, have developed a new Hafnium-free p-type half-Heusler material which offers substantially lower raw material cost than conventional half-Heusler materials.... Read more →

TG16. Click to enlarge. GMZ Energy, a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has introduced the TG16-1.0, a new thermoelectric module capable of producing twice the power of the company’s first product, the TG8-1.0. By doubling the power density, GMZ’s new module substantially increases performance while maintaining a... Read more →

The assembled 200W TEG tested in June delivered 270W of output. Click to enlarge. GMZ Energy and its partners are on track to deliver a 1 kW thermoelectric generator (TEG) for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle as well as to design and to integrate a light-duty vehicle TEG into a Honda... Read more →

TEG component (cartridge) and TEG architecture concept. Source: Crane (2013).Click to enlarge. Tenneco and Gentherm (formerly BSST/Amerigon) are part of a US Department of Energy (DOE) consortium actively developing a thermoelectric generator (TEG) for capturing waste exhaust heat in vehicles and converting it to electrical energy to be used to... Read more →

PowerDriver simulations predict thermoelectric exhaust waste heat recovery output of 300W, -2.5% in fuel consumption; prototyping begins

The European Union-funded PowerDriver project—a two-year, €3-million (US$4-million) research project initiated in February 2012 to turn exhaust gas waste heat into electricity using thermoelectric generator (TGEN) technology—has completed simulation work on on a potential automotive application. Results suggest TGEN output of 300W and equivalent fuel saving over the NEDC drive... Read more →

NSF invests $12M in 14 materials-by-design research projects as part of Materials Genome Initiative

The National Science Foundation (NSF), in support of the federal multi-agency Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) (earlier post), has now granted the first awards for the Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program. The NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and Engineering (ENG) Directorates invested a total of... Read more →

Stack-designed cylindrical TEG, built with TE cartridges, developed for LDVs in first project. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Gentherm (formerly Amerigon) a $1.55-million contract modification to apply the technology in its thermoelectric generator (TEG) for passenger cars to a similar program for heavy vehicles.... Read more →

Research project Turbosteamer, Generation 2. Click to enlarge. Despite improvements in engine efficiency—e.g., with technologies such as direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, exhaust-driven turbochargers, brake energy regeneration and Auto Start Stop function—about 60% of the generated energy is still lost, half of it being exhaust heat, with the remaining... Read more →

US DOE awards more than $175M to 40 projects for advanced vehicle research and development

The US Department of Energy will award more than $175 million over the next three to five years to accelerate the development and deployment of a range of advanced vehicle technologies. The funding will support 40 projects across 15 states and will help improve the fuel efficiency of next generation... Read more →

Collaboration of Bosch, Stanford and Univ. of South Florida receives $1.2M grant from NSF/DOE partnership for automotive thermoelectric waste heat recovery

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a collaboration between Stanford University, the University of South Florida and Bosch Research and Technology Center North America a $1.2-million, three-year grant (award #1048796) to address various topics relevant to automotive waste heat recovery using thermoelectrics. These topics include novel interface materials and... Read more →

Two separate research collaborations have recently reported advances in the efficiency of thermoelectric materials in converting heat to electricity. A collaboration including researchers from Boston College, MIT, the University of Virginia and Clemson University have achieved a peak ZT (thermoelectric figure of merit) of 0.8 at 700 °C (973 K),... Read more →

Example of the structure of a partially filled CoSb skutterudite. Source: C. Uher. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are working to improve the thermoelectric (TE) capabilities of filled skutterudites to the point that they could improve the performance... Read more →

Electric motor efficiency targets within the FOA. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies (VT) Program is soliciting projects for funding awards of up to $184 million over... Read more →

Six key elements of a thermoelectric waste heat recovery module for vehicle applications. Successful proposals will address at least three. Click to enlarge. The Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation in partnership with the US Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program has issued a solicitation for proposals for... Read more →

Schematic of a thermocell with nanostructured electrodes showing concentration gradients of the ferri-ferrocyanide redox ions during power generation. Credit: ACS, Hu et al. Click to enlarge. An international team of researchers from the US, India and Australia has demonstrated thermo-electrochemical cells (thermocells) in practical configurations (from coin cells to cells... Read more →

Contour plots showing electronic density of states in HMAs created from zinc selenide by the addition of (a) 3.125% oxygen atoms, and (b) 6.25% oxygen. The zinc and selenium atoms are shown in light blue and orange. Oxygen atoms (dark blue) are surrounded by high electronic density regions. Source: Junqiao... Read more →

The Blue-Will PHEV concept. Click to enlarge. Hyundai brought its Blue-Will plug-in hybrid (PHEV) concept—first introduced at the 2009 Seoul Motor Show (earlier post)—to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for its US debut. Blue-Will serves as a test bed of new ideas that range from roof-mounted solar... Read more →

Distribution of energy in the car. Click to enlarge. BMW dedicated a portion of its recent Innovation Days 2009 event to the topic of Intelligent Heat management as a mechanism for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Among the projects discussed were reducing cold starts; using waste heat for different... Read more →

by Jack Rosebro Conceptual schematic of direct thermoelectric generator mounted in a vehicle’s exhaust stream. Indirect configurations are also possible. Adapted from Hussain et al. Click to enlarge. At SAE 2009 World Congress in Detroit last month, Ford Motor Company presented a research paper that detailed the results of an... Read more →

Komatsu to Begin Sales of Thermoelectric Generation Modules

Komatsu thermoelectric generation module. Click to enlarge. Construction-equipment manufacturer Komatsu Ltd. will launch the commercial production and sales of thermoelectric generation (TEG) modules beginning in May. Komatsu’s TEG modules, which are based on a bismuth (Bi) and tellurium (Te) material, have a conversion efficiency of 7.2% under a temperature differential... Read more →

DOE to Fund up to $14.55M for Vehicle RD&D Projects: PHEV Li-ion Materials and Manufacturing; Thermoelectric HVAC; and Aerodynamic Heavy-Duty Truck Trailers

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected six cost-shared research projects for the development and demonstration of alternative vehicle technology projects totaling a DOE investment of up to $14.55 million over three years, subject to annual appropriations. The projects were selected under three diverse topic areas: lithium-ion battery materials and... Read more →

RTI International Developing Higher Efficiency Thermoelectric Materials, Applications

Researchers at RTI International, led by Dr. Rama Venkatasubramanian, in collaboration with several universities and United Technologies Research Corporation are working on higher efficiency thermoelectric materials for the conversion of heat differentials or waste heat into electrical energy for a wide range of applications. The research is funded by two... Read more →

New Approach to Developing Thermoelectric Materials Doubles Efficiency

The zT values for Tl0.02Pb0.98Te (black circles) and Tl0.01Pb0.99Te (blue circles) compared to that of a reference sample of Na-PbTe (purple diamonds).Click to enlarge. Source: Heremans 2008. A team of researchers led by Dr. Joseph Heremans at Ohio State University has developed a new thermoelectric (TE) material with twice the... Read more →

Michigan Research Alliance Funds Thermoelectric Power Generation and Cellulosic Ethanol Projects

The University Research Corridor (URC), an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University—Michigan’s three research universities—has awarded its first seed fund grants to provide startup support for two “revolutionary but feasible” energy projects: thermoelectric power generation and nano-biocarriers for the production of low-cost cellulosic... Read more →

Thermoelectrics’ Potential for Material Impact on Climate Crisis Questioned, Even in Vehicle Waste Heat Recovery

While the science, technology and business of thermoelectric (TE) technology—solid state “heat engines” capable of converting heat to electricity or alternatively converting electricity into cooling—has never been stronger than today, the technology’s potential for a material impact on the climate crisis appears limited, according to Cronin Vining, president of the... Read more →

GMZ Energy Announces Commercial Availability of More Efficient Thermoelectric Material

A cross-section of nano-crystalline bismuth antimony telluride grains, as viewed through a transmission electron microscope. Colors highlight the features of each grain of the semiconductor alloy in bulk form. Click to enlarge. Image: Boston College, MIT, and GMZ Inc. GMZ Energy has announced the commercial availability of a new thermoelectric... Read more →

DOE Soliciting Projects in Thermoelectric Vehicular HVAC and Waste Heat Recovery; Li-Ion Materials and Manufacturing for PHEVs; and Aerodynamic Trailers

In a wide-ranging set of solicitations, the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Vehicle Technologies (VT) Program, through the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), is seeking applications for cost-shared projects in three areas of interest: thermoelectric (TE) vehicular heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); materials... Read more →

Researchers Achieve Major Increase in Thermoelectric Efficiency of Bismuth Antimony Telluride

A cross-section of nano-crystalline bismuth antimony telluride grains, as viewed through a transmission electron microscope. Colors highlight the features of each grain of the semiconductor alloy in bulk form. Click to enlarge. Image: Boston College, MIT, and GMZ Inc. Researchers at Boston College and MIT have achieved a major increase... Read more →