According to an article published in the journal Advanced Material Technologies, a research group in Japan has developed an inexpensive, large-scale and flexible thermoelectric generator (FlexTEG). This flexible thermoelectric generator as high mechanical reliability and can convert heat into electricity efficiently.
A thermoelectric conversion has been one of the most attractive techniques used when it comes to converting low-temperature (150°C or lower) waste heat into electric power. But this technique has been neglected due to lack of suitable packaging techniques for thermoelectric generation modules that can operate in the 100-150°C range. Also, the production cost of modules for generating power at room temperature is high which makes it difficult to implement.
Researchers from Osaka University have now developed a method to manufacture thermoelectric generation modules cost effectively while maintaining the conversion efficiency of the modules.
Small thermoelectric semiconductor chips were mounted on the flexible substrate and achieve a reliable and stable adhesion of the electrical contacts between the chips and the flexible structure.
The researchers called the discovery FlexTEG. What’s unique about FlexTEG module is the parallel integration of electrodes. This allows the module to be bent in a uniaxial direction. The mechanical stress on individual thermoelectric semiconductor chips is also reduced by the parallel alignment which improves the overall mechanical reliability of the FlexTEG module.
According to the lead author Assistant Professor Tohru Sugahara of Osaka University – “Our FlexTEG module can be used as a conversion thermoelectric generator module for waste heat of 150°C or lower. Its mounting technique is based on conventional semiconductor packaging techniques, allowing mass production and lowering the cost of thermoelectric conversion modules,”
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