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Issue 1, 2017
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The bridge between the materials and devices of thermoelectric power generators

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Abstract

While considerable efforts have been made to develop and improve thermoelectric materials, research on thermoelectric modules is at a relatively early stage because of the gap between material and device technologies. In this review, we discuss the cumulative temperature dependence model to reliably predict the thermoelectric performance of module devices and individual materials for an accurate evaluation of the p–n configuration compared to the conventional model used since the 1950s. In this model, the engineering figure of merit and engineering power factor are direct indicators, and they exhibit linear correlations to efficiency and output power density, respectively. To reconcile the strategy for high material performance and the thermomechanical reliability issue in devices, a new methodology is introduced by defining the engineering thermal conductivity. Beyond thermoelectric materials, the device point of view needs to be actively addressed before thermoelectric generators can be envisioned as power sources.

Graphical abstract: The bridge between the materials and devices of thermoelectric power generators

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Article information


Submitted
26 Aug 2016
Accepted
17 Nov 2016
First published
17 Nov 2016

Energy Environ. Sci., 2017,10, 69-85
Article type
Perspective

The bridge between the materials and devices of thermoelectric power generators

H. S. Kim, W. Liu and Z. Ren, Energy Environ. Sci., 2017, 10, 69
DOI: 10.1039/C6EE02488B

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