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Issue 8, 2015
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Heat-to-current conversion of low-grade heat from a thermocapacitive cycle by supercapacitors

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Abstract

Thermal energy is abundantly available, and especially low-grade heat is often wasted in industrial processes as a by-product. Tapping into this vast energy reservoir with cost-attractive technologies may become a key element for the transition to an energy-sustainable economy and society. We propose a novel heat-to-current converter which is based on the temperature dependence of the cell voltage of charged supercapacitors. Using a commercially available supercapacitor, we observed a thermal cell-voltage rise of around 0.6 mV K−1 over a temperature window of 0 °C to 65 °C. Within our theoretical model, this can be used to operate a Stirling-like charge–voltage cycle whose efficiency is competitive to the most-efficient thermoelectric (Seebeck) engines. Our proposed heat-to-current converter is built from cheap materials, contains no moving parts, and could operate with a plethora of electrolytes which can be chosen for optimal performance at specific working temperatures. Therefore, this heat-to-current converter is interesting for small-scale, domestic, and industrial applications.

Graphical abstract: Heat-to-current conversion of low-grade heat from a thermocapacitive cycle by supercapacitors

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Apr 2015, accepted on 13 Jul 2015 and first published on 13 Jul 2015


Article type: Communication
DOI: 10.1039/C5EE01192B
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2015,8, 2396-2401
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Heat-to-current conversion of low-grade heat from a thermocapacitive cycle by supercapacitors

    A. Härtel, M. Janssen, D. Weingarth, V. Presser and R. van Roij, Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, 8, 2396
    DOI: 10.1039/C5EE01192B

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