Solar thermoelectric power generation in a vacuum and with water cooling

Morrant, Rodney (2017) Solar thermoelectric power generation in a vacuum and with water cooling. [USQ Project]


The project seeks to establish the performance characteristics of a typical commercially available bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) thermoelectric generator (TEG) when exposed to solar radiation. Where the TEG operates by generating an electrical potential when a temperature differential is established across the two main surfaces, this project aims to investigate various methods to increase the temperature differential and therefore, power generated.

Examining alternative energy sources is a critical part of transitioning from CO2 intensive technologies to more sustainable options. TEG technology has been around since the 1950s; however, inherent inefficiencies in their lattice superstructure has made their application to power generation limited. Recent advancements in materials technology at the nano-scale has mitigated some of these limitations by improving device thermal characteristics with high-performance nanostructured materials and the use of a vacuum to limit convection losses.

Methods to increase the temperature differential across a TEG were investigated, developed and implemented. This methodology included thermodynamic modelling to predict power output and development of a data logger to measure and record temperature, voltage, current and power.

Results show that hot-side temperature can be increased by using a vacuum and a water-cooled heatsink was better able to keep a low cold-side temperature. However, the voltage, current and power responses observed in vacuum conditions decreased. This is due to some other phenomena, such as thermoelectric element stress or lost energy from the evacuated gas, which require further investigation.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronic)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Helwig, Andreas
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2022 00:22
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2023 01:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: solar thermoelectric; power generation

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