The US Department of Energy is planning to hold the 2009 Thermoelectrics Applications Workshop 29 September to 2 October in San Diego, CA. The purpose of the Workshop is to expand the interest in thermoelectrics for automotive as well as other applications, such as directly converting waste heat from industrial processes, geothermal, stationary power prime movers (gas turbines and diesels), rail, marine and off-highway equipment to electricity.
The DOE Vehicle Technologies (VT) Program has been supporting the development and application thermoelectrics in vehicles. As a result, it is expected that within 5 years, the first generation thermoelectric generators that will directly convert engine waste heat to electricity will be commercially introduced in the automotive market.
DOE/VT is also jointly funding, with the California Energy Commission (CEC), competitively selected project teams headed by Ford and GM to develop automotive thermoelectric heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (TE HVAC) systems, using the zonal concept of cooling or heating only the occupants and not the whole cabin.
TE HVAC systems are strong candidates to replace current vehicular air conditioners using the refrigerant gas R-134a with a global warming potential that is 1,300 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The successful deployment of these two automotive applications will greatly expand the volume of thermoelectric materials to supply the auto market here and abroad, providing an added stimulus to develop more efficient thermoelectrics, improve scale up production capabilities, and reduce cost with volume production as has historically been the case with semiconductor devices.
The workshop will have Key Principal Investigators summarize their work. Project Engineers on the DOE/VC TEG and TE HVAC efforts will provide a summary of their design efforts. Representatives from the fabrication community will be invited to discuss scale up and commercial viability. Department of Defense representatives will be asked to present an overview of the thermoelectric related R&D (unclassified) that they are supporting and define some of their applications interest. DOE is also inviting representatives from Europe and Asia to provide a summary of their thermoelectric activities.