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Thermoelectrics

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

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

August 31, 2017

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 than three orders of magnitude compared with single-phase multilayer In2Se3, with the thermoelectric figure-of-merit approaching ∼1 at room temperature.

In a paper published in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, the team led by Yi Gu, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, suggest that these significantly improved thermoelectric properties are not due to the 2D quantum confinement effects but instead are a consequence of the Schottky barrier at the junction interface, which leads to hot carrier transport and shifts the balance between thermally and field-driven currents. While still in an early stage of development, the new diode could eventually provide an extra source of power for everything from smartphones to automobiles.

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MAHLE acquires thermoelectric generator start-up O-Flexx

February 16, 2017

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 thermoelectric technology based on a thin-film approach combined with a cost-optimized, high-volume manufacturing process. O-Flexx says that its technology—protected by several patents—significantly increases conversion efficiency.The company collaborates with a partners from the industry—such as MAHLE—as well as research institutions such as the University of Duisburg-Essen, Vienna University of Technology and several Fraunhofer institutes.

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DLR working with Yamaha on thermoelectric generators for vehicles; seeking 3-5% gain in fuel economy

February 02, 2017

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 is mainly contributing its know-how in the procurement and manufacture of the thermoelectric modules made of semiconductor materials, and DLR is contributing its broad knowledge in design, vehicle concepts, as well as the design and optimization of vehicle energy systems.

Internal combustion engines in vehicles use only about one-third of the potential energy in the fuel for propulsion; the remaining two-thirds are lost as waste heat. Thermoelectric generators use this heat and convert it into electricity. The power can then be used in the vehicle for control units or convenience electronics and thus reduces the load on the alternator, which would otherwise have to generate this power itself.

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Japan researchers successfully synthesize new lightweight thermoelectric material

October 25, 2016

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) and pulse current sintering (PCS) processes.

The new thermoelectric material is lightweight, with a low density of 2.2 g/cm3. One of the possible applications of the material is in automobiles to utilize waste heat emitted from engines, the research team suggested. A paper on the work is published in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

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AIMPLAS heating system for EVs reduces energy consumption by 30% relative to conventional systems

October 05, 2016

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 reducing the energy consumption in a 30% compared to conventional heating systems.

The system is based on the Joule effect in which electrical conductive materials produce heat when a voltage is applied. (Also called resistive or ohmic heating.)

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