From the Forword:
All machines from jet engines to microprocessors generate massive amounts of waste heat, as do manufacturing processes ranging from steel to food production. Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are solid-state devices that convert a heat flux directly into electrical power and therefore have the potential to offer a simple, compact route to power generation.
The growing concern about CO2 emissions, global warming and energy supplies over the past two decades has focussed attention on alternative, clean methods of power generation. Thermoelectric methods offer the benefit of a solid-state construction and allow the energy recovery solution to be readily adapted to the underlying process.
Applications are as diverse as automotive, marine, aerospace, medical and the Internet of Things. Thermoelectric devices can also provide effective thermal management, including microelectronics and battery conditioning in electric vehicles, and refrigeration in an all solid-state device. Solid-state thermoelectric generators have been used effectively in niche applications such as satellite missions for over 50 years. There are now considerable opportunities to use thermoelectrics in a wide variety of domestic and industrial applications, including off-grid generation of electricity. However, to exploit thermoelectrics fully as energy harvesters in the different environments requires the development of new thermoelectric materials with enhanced performance over wider temperature ranges, along with high performance modules and systems.
The UK has a growing thermoelectric community, spanning all aspects of the development supply chain from modelling to materials to engineering, with good links between academe and industry. If the UK is to reap the benefits of the initial developments there should be investment and support for a new generation of thermoelectric materials that exploits the synergies between experimental and computational expertise, novel device architectures, associated novel manufacturing and materials preparation techniques and system integration.
Further details on the EPSRC Thermoelectric Network’s webpage: thermoelectricnetwork.com/.