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New formulation of the theory of thermoelectric generator for operation under constant heat flux

Min, Gao ORCID: 2022. New formulation of the theory of thermoelectric generator for operation under constant heat flux. Energy & Environmental Science 15 , pp. 356-367. 10.1039/D1EE03114G

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The current theory of thermoelectric generator can only deal with the situations where a thermoelectric generator operates under a constant temperature difference. In this paper, a new theoretical formulation is reported that can apply to the situations where the thermoelectric generator operates under a constant heat flux, completing the thermoelectric generator theory that has been absent for more than half century. Central to the development of this new theory is a thermoelectric relationship that links the temperature difference across a thermoelectric generator at open circuit to that at closed circuit, enabling the new formulation. The new theory offers the capacity to calculate the maximum power output and maximum conversion efficiency of a thermoelectric generator that operates under a constant heat flux, which represents typical characteristics of majority heat sources and is anticipated to have significant impact on design and optimization of many practical thermoelectric generators. Moreover, the theory lays the foundation for deep understanding of the unique characteristics of thermoelectric I-V curves and opens up a new way to investigate and evaluate thermoelectric properties and performances using the I-V curves. Other foreseeable outcomes due to this new theory include development of a novel thermoelectric characterisation technique based on thermoelectric I-V curves, a variable thermal resistance for heat regulation and exploring the possibility of improving the performance of thermoelectric generator by pulse mode operation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence
Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry
ISSN: 1754-5692
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 November 2021
Date of Acceptance: 22 November 2021
Last Modified: 07 May 2023 01:12

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