Function-wise, thermoelectric generators (TEGs) transform ambient heat into electrical energy In terms of their attributes, TEGs enable maintenance- free, autonomous power supply in an environment friendly manner for the continuous number of sensors and devices to support Internet of Things technology. Notably, these devices recover waste heat that is converted into electrical energy.
In a new development, scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a three-dimensional component architecture for TEGs. This new model of TEGs is based on novel, printable thermoelectric materials. Interestingly, this could be a milestone as scientists strive to develop inexpensive TEGs.
The findings are published in npj Flexible Electronics and ACS Energy Letters.
“Meanwhile, thermoelectric generators directly convert thermal energy into electrical energy. Using this technology, autonomous sensors for devices that support Internet of Things, or for wearables such as fitness trackers, smart watches, digital glasses operate without batteries, say one of the associates behind the development. Besides this, TEGs might find use for the recovery of waste heat in industrial units and heating systems or in the geothermal energy sector.
In fact, conventional TEGs need to be assembled from individual components employing relatively complex manufacturing methods, added the research associate. In a bid to avoid this, the research team examined novel printable materials and developed two innovative processes and inks based on organic and inorganic nanoparticles. These processes and inks find further use to generate inexpensive, three –dimensional printed thermoelectric generators.
Elaborately, the first process employs screen printing to portray a 2-D pattern onto a flexible substrate foil that is ultra-thin. For this the processes uses thermoelectric printing inks. Following this, origami technique employed and a generator about the size of a sugar cube is folded.