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Paint a thermoelectric device onto any shaped surface to recover waste heat

By Paul Grad |

Scientists from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST; Ulsan, South Korea; www.unist.ac.kr), led by Prof Jae Sung Son, have succeeded in producing high-performance, solid-state thermoelectric (TE) materials with liquid-like properties that can be easily brush-painted on surfaces of almost any shape. The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and vice versa. This phenomenon can be used for heating or cooling, and for waste-heat-recovery systems. The output power of thermoelectric generators depends both on the inherent properties of the TE material and on the engineering of the device to minimize heat losses. The power generating efficiency of solid-state TE devices can be estimated from a dimensionless parameter, ZT = S2(sigma)T/k, where S is the Seebeck coefficient, sigma is the electrical conductivity, k is the thermal conductivity and T is the temperature). In real-world applications, the minimization of heat loss due to incomplete contact between the surface of the heat source and the TE module is no less important than the TE material’s power-generating efficiency. In response to that challenge, the scientists developed a shape-engineerable TE painting…
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