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Design and Fabrication of Heat Storage Thermoelectric Harvesting Devices

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6 Author(s)
Kiziroglou, M.E. ; Dept. of Electr. & Electron. Eng., Imperial Coll. London, London, UK ; Wright, S.W. ; Toh, T.T. ; Mitcheson, P.D.
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Thermoelectric energy harvesting requires a substantial temperature difference ΔT to be available within the device structure. This has restricted its use to particular applications such as heat engine structural monitoring, where a hot metal surface is available. An alternative approach is possible in cases where ambient temperature undergoes regular variation. This involves using a heat storage unit, which is filled with a phase-change material (PCM), to create an internal spatial temperature difference from temperature variation in time. In this paper, key design parameters and a characterization methodology for such devices are defined. The maximum electrical energy density expected for a given temperature range is calculated. The fabrication, characterization, and analysis of a heat storage harvesting prototype device are presented for temperature variations of a few tens of degrees around 0 °C, corresponding to aircraft flight conditions. Output energy of 105 J into a 10- Ω matched resistive load, from a temperature sweep from +20 °C to -21 °C, then to +25 °C is demonstrated, using 23 g of water as the PCM. The proposed device offers a unique powering solution for wireless sensor applications involving locations with temperature variation, such as structural monitoring in aircraft, industrial, and vehicle facilities.

Published in:

Industrial Electronics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:61 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

Jan. 2014

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