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 →


Two Research Groups Demonstrate High-Performance Thermoelectric Capability in Silicon Nanowires

False-color image of Caltech silicon nanowire thermoelectric device. The central green area is the Si nanowire array, which is not resolved at this larger magnification. The four-lead yellow electrodes are used for thermometry. The thermal gradient is established with either of the two Joule heaters (the right-hand heater is colored... Read more →


Thermoelectric Milestone from UC Berkeley: Organic Thermoelectric Material

A benzenedithiol molecule trapped between two gold surfaces. Click to enlarge. Credit: Ben Utley. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have successfully generated electricity from heat by trapping organic molecules between metal nanoparticles to create an organic thermoelectric material. The new UC Berkeley study marks the first time the... Read more →


BMW Introduces Intelligent Alternator Control with Regenerative Braking; Reduces Fuel Consumption by About 4%

At the Paris Auto Show, BMW introduced a system it calls Intelligent Alternator Control (IAC) to generate electric power for a car’s on-board network exclusively in overrun and during braking—IAC thus also incorporates a system for regenerating brake energy. The system is part of a larger BMW initiative to improve... Read more →


Thermoelectric-Powered Hydrogen Injection System

The basic design of the TEG-Electrolyzer system Hi-Z Technology and Dynamic Fuel Systems are exploring the use of electricity generated from waste heat to power an on-board electrolysis unit to produce hydrogen for supplementary injection into the intake port of an engine to increase combustion efficiency. Hi-Z is a developer... Read more →


DOE Awards $116M to Small Businesses for Research; Energy Storage for Hybrids and EVs Included

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $116 million in grants to small businesses for research under the department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The research projects are in 49 technical topic areas including energy storage for hybrid and electric vehicles, thermoelectic... Read more →


Conference: Nanotechnology Holds Promise for Energy Breakthroughs

Nanotechnology holds promise for necessary breakthroughs in a number of critical energy sectors, including solar cells, thermoelectric conversion and transport, hydrogen storage, and electrochemical conversion and storage (i.e., batteries, capacitors and fuel cells), according to scientists participating in the first Energy Nanotechnology International Conference (ENIC2006) held June 26-28 at MIT.... Read more →


DOE Authorizes Phase 2 of Thermoelectric Waste Heat Recovery Project

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has authorized Amerigon’s BSST subsidiary to proceed with the second phase of a $6.3 million project (earlier post) to create an efficient and practical thermoelectric system that will improve fuel economy by converting waste heat in automobile engine exhaust into electrical power. BSST is... Read more →


Thermoelectrics Gaining More Attention and Development Focus

Exhaust heat = available energy—if you can convert it. Thermoelectrics made it into the headlines recently from an unlikely source: two Utah teenagers won the first Ricoh Sustainable Development Award in May for using Peltier chips in a prototype automotive air conditioning unit they built for the Intel International Science... Read more →


New Nano Design Principle Could Dramatically Increase Efficiency of Thermoelectric Material

Two researchers have developed a design principle for nanostructured thermoelectric materials that could dramatically increase their efficiency, eventually leading to widespread adoption of thermoelectric devices for waste heat generation from engines, among other energy applications. The pair calculated that certain nanostructured materials could achieve values of the standard thermoelectric “figure... Read more →


DOE Selects BSST to Lead Thermoelectric Automobile Waste Heat Recovery Project

Earlier this year, the DOE selected BSST, a subsidiary of Amerigon, (earlier post) to lead the development of an efficient and practical thermoelectric system that will improve fuel economy by converting waste heat in automobile engine exhaust into electrical power. BSST will lead a development team that includes Visteon Corporation,... Read more →


A Boost for Thermoelectrics

BSST, a subsidiary of Amerigon, has signed a long-term agreement with Visteon Corporation to develop an array of heating and cooling products for the automotive industry featuring BSST’s thermoelectric device (TED) technology. Visteon is one of the world’s leading automotive Tier I suppliers. (Earlier post on thermoelectrics here.) The formal... Read more →


Thermoelectric Systems for Greener Vehicles

Thermoelectric materials—materials that exploit a phenomenon in which the application of heat to combinations of certain metals induces an electric current—are emerging as potentially important systems for increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing emissions...and maybe even as a wildcard solution for propulsion in the future. Thomas Seebeck, a German physicist, first... Read more →