Tag Archives: #Thermoelectric #energy

Thermoelectric power generation

In the United States, 90 percent of electricity comes from thermoelectric power plants—coal, nuclear, natural gas, and oil—that require cooling. The PowerPot has no moving parts or batteries, and since the thermoelectric technology is built into the bottom of the pot it can produce electricity from a wide variety of heat sources. “Converting waste heat into electric power, for example, using vehicle exhaust, is a near-term ‘green’ application for such materials.”

The PowerPot runs a light by converting heat to DC electricity
The PowerPot runs a light by converting heat to DC electricity

Generators have been constructed to use solar, natural gas, propane, butane, kerosene, jet fuels, and wood, to name  a few heat sources. The device generates electricity via the Seebeck Effect, where electricity is produced from a temperature differential applied across the device. Working within these limits, however, it is possible to fabricate custom modules that are particularly suited for standard use.

Of course, everything has its limitations, but with a unit the size of the one in the following video, you’ll easily be able to power small gadgets you have around your home. Be aware that there are practical limits on element geometry due to the fragility of crystalline Bismuth telluride material. Also be aware that the Bismuth melts at 520.7 °F so too much heat will melt the units. 

Thermoelectric waste heat recovery is the process of recapturing this lost heat and converting it to electrical power. By using the modules “in reverse,” however, whereby a temperature differential is applied across the faces of the module, it is possible to generate electrical power. A bigger unit would serve higher purposes.

Basic-schematic-for-a-thermoelectric-generator.-Graphic-from-CalTech.
If you give this unit electricity it causes cold to move to one side and heat to the other. We run this in the opposite direction to create electricity. heating the cool side and cooling the hot side.