High-Performance Nanostructured Thermoelectric Materials Prepared by Melt Spinning and Spark Plasma Sintering

Authored by: Xinfeng Tang , Wenjie Xie , Han Li , Baoli Du , Qingjie Zhang , Terry M. Tritt , Ctirad Uher

Thermoelectrics and its Energy Harvesting

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781439874707
eBook ISBN: 9781439874714
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b11891-19

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Abstract

The demand for alternative energy technology to reduce our global reliance on fossil fuels and the ­greenhouse gas emissions leads to new and important regimes of research, including that of direct ­thermal-to-electrical energy conversion via thermoelectricity [14]. Thermoelectric (TE) materials and devices possess several merits such as an all solid-state assembly, lightweight structure and compactness, rapid responsiveness, operation with no moving mechanical parts or hazardous working fluids, and the added attribute for potential miniaturization. However, despite the obvious merits of thermoelectricity, the efficiency of TE conversion processes is less than that of equivalent mechanical systems by a factor of 2–4. For this reason, thermoelectricity has been long limited to niche applications such as providing the power sources for deep space missions (using radioisotope TE generators) and unattended terrestrial systems, where the availability and reliability of the power supply are more of a concern than the efficiency. Hence, improving the conversion efficiency is the key for the development of large-scale applications of thermoelectricity.

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