Thermo-electrochemical cells for waste heat harvesting – progress and perspectives
Thermo-electrochemical cells (also called thermocells) are promising devices for harvesting waste heat for the sustainable production of energy. Research into thermocells has increased significantly in recent years, driven by advantages such as their ability to continuously convert heat into electrical energy without producing emissions or consuming materials. Until relatively recently, the commercial viability of thermocells was limited by their low power output and conversion efficiency. However, there have lately been significant advances in thermocell performance as a result of improvements to the electrode materials, electrolyte and redox chemistry and various features of the cell design. This article overviews these recent developments in thermocell research, including the development of new redox couples, the optimisation of electrolytes for improved power output and high-temperature operation, the design of high surface area electrodes for increased current density and device flexibility, and the optimisation of cell design to further enhance performance.