Nanostructured High-Temperature Bulk Thermoelectric Generator for Micro Combined Heat and Power Boiler

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Student Presentation

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Faculty Sponsor

Yanliang Zhang


Research focuses on developing the world’s first cost-effective combined heat and power (CHP) boilers using high-efficiency thermoelectric generators (TEGs). TEGs are especially attractive for micro combined heat and power generation due to its solid-state and compact nature. In the core of our TEGs is a thermoelectric module of unique device-packaging architecture that enables device operation at 500oC temperature differences with 10% heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency. By developing a multi-physics model, we were able to creative innovative heat exchanger subsystem and thermal management design for high conversion efficiency power generation. Goals of the system were to maximize thermal efficiency and electric power output while minimizing pressure drop and thermal stress across the system. The TEG was installed on the heat exchanger interior of a 30KW residential boiler in order to utilize the temperature differences between the water and combustion flame. We were able to convert a portion of the heat into electricity with the remaining heat contributing to water heating. Our initial thermoelectric generator prototype shows the electric power output of about 100 W. The CHP boiler will not only provide on-site energy generating capabilities at about 50% less cost than electricity from the grid, but also provide thermal and electrical energy at times when other alternative energy sources are not available. This technology significantly increases the value of fuel and enhances the overall facility security by providing a back-up power during inclement weather and natural/artificial disasters. Total heat and generation efficiency of 95% can be achieved using condensing boilers. Working with the boiler OEMs, our future work is focused on system level integration of TEG into boilers that can ultimately lead to a commercial path of micro CHP technology using high-efficiency thermoelectric generators.

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