It is our intent to become a major player in the field of Thermoelectric POWER GENERATION using the SEEBECK EFFECT. Estimates are that thermoelectric POWER technology will become more competitive than solar or wind technologies even with these technologies having a head start as far as deployment and technology advances. The pay back on thermoelectric power/watt is more economical presently, than both wind and solar, even with the smaller efficiencies that presently are available with today’s materials. Smaller physical design units work at very small temperature differences which make them ideal heat scavengers for wireless power generation to run sensors or charge rechargeable batteries for autonomous systems. The payback can be 2 fold. Power and thermal energy can be recovered from an application which means that systems that utilize both utilities can pay for themselves in less that 2 years. No other green technology has that ROI economics.
The quoted cost recently at a Department Of Energy funded workshop Sept. 30/2009 was $2.00 per watt based on a Delta Temperature ( DT) of 100°C exempt of assembly materials and installation when large volume pricing is used. If thermal energy is recovered that cost could drop to under 0.25/watt or less.
The draw back to the TEG POWER technology is also it’s strength. Because the power densities are very large, small units can be manufactured at produce power as a base load unit. 10 Watts IPOWERTOWER doesn’t seem like much but run that 24/7 for 30 days straight as a base load system and you can run a whole camp lodge of the power it produces (7200wh) or 7.2Kwh! A 300 watt TEG assembly can fit in about a tenth of the space required for an equivalent solar array.
As well, the output is 24 hours per day as long as there is an active heat source and a cold side. So, actual power output could be 6 -7 times what a 300 watt solar array could produce. What is needed to make the technology cheaper to operate is waste heat, which by the definition is free. The key words being “WASTE HEAT”. To extract the most efficiency and power from the present state of the art semiconductor materials. It is advisable to have a temperature of 150 to 250°C (302-482°F) hot side, with a Delta Temperature (DT) of at least 100°C.
Some applications can work on low grade heat in the 100°C (212°F) range, if the volume of waste heat is high and ample cold side water or air is available.
Presently, Bi2Te3 is the most efficient at room temperature. Material such as PbTe have also been used in temperatures of 400 to 600° C (875-1112°F)
Both Bi2Te3 and PbTe are mature material. Their characteristics and performance are well documented and have been used extensively in commercial application.
PbTe properties are better suited to temperatures above 450°C.
Europe restricts the use of Pb (lead), but an exemption on PbTe material is in place until 2018. But like Cd
(Cadmium) used by First solar for flat panel CdTe solar panels this exemption is expected to expire by 2018.
Therefore, Bi2Te3 (Bismuth Telluride) thermoelectric material is the only low temperature material widely available in thermoelectric power module form. CMO, ZnSb are available or almost
and will compliment the list of chemistries that will be available in the future.
There are other Thermoelectric TEG power materials using the SEEBECK EFFECT that hold promise in the thermoelectric Generation field.
These include but not limited to:
Characteristics of other various Thermoelectric Materials for Power Generation
The four Thermoelectric power materials above are of particular interest as they are abundant materials and less expensive compared to Te(Tellurium) based semiconductors and have equal or Greater SEEBECK EFFECT efficiencies. An additional major factor is toxicity. The material above in RED signify benign or exhibit little or no toxicity at all.