Journal of Electronic Materials

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 3983–3995 | Cite as

Optimal Design of an Automotive Exhaust Thermoelectric Generator

  • Hassan Fagehi
  • Alaa Attar
  • Hosung Lee


The consumption of energy continues to increase at an exponential rate, especially in terms of conventional automobiles. Approximately 40% of the applied fuel into a vehicle is lost as waste exhausted to the environment. The desire for improved fuel efficiency by recovering the exhaust waste heat in automobiles has become an important subject. A thermoelectric generator (TEG) has the potential to convert exhaust waste heat into electricity as long as it is improving fuel economy. The remarkable amount of research being conducted on TEGs indicates that this technology will have a bright future in terms of power generation. The current study discusses the optimal design of the automotive exhaust TEG. An experimental study has been conducted to verify the model that used the ideal (standard) equations along with effective material properties. The model is reasonably verified by experimental work, mainly due to the utilization of the effective material properties. Hence, the thermoelectric module that was used in the experiment was optimized by using a developed optimal design theory (dimensionless analysis technique).


Thermoelectric generator automotive exhaust thermoelectric generator effective material properties 

List of Symbols


Power output (W)


Thermoelement thermal conductivity (W/m K), \( k = k_{p} + k_{n} \)


Thermal conductance (W/K), \( K = kA_{e} /L_{e} \)

\( L_{e} \)

Length of thermoelement (mm)

\( \dot{m}_{1} \)

Mass flow rate of hot side (g/s)

\( \dot{m}_{2} \)

Mass flow rate of cold side (g/s)


Number of thermocouples

\( N_{m1} \)

Dimensionless capacitance at fluid 1

\( N_{m2} \)

Dimensionless capacitance at fluid 2

\( N_{k} \)

Dimensionless thermal conductance

\( N_{h} \)

Dimensionless convection

\( N_{I} \)

Dimensionless current

\( \dot{Q}_{2} \)

Cooling capacity (W)

\( \dot{Q}_{1} \)

Heat rejection (W)

\( T_{2} \)

Cold junction temperature (°C)

\( T_{1} \)

Hot junction temperature (°C)

\( T_{\infty 2} \)

Cold fluid temperature (°C)

\( T_{{\infty - 1 - {\rm{in}}}} \)

Input hot fluid temperature (°C)

\( T_{{\infty - 1 - {\rm{out}}}} \)

Out hot fluid temperature (°C)

\( T_{{\infty - 2 - {\rm{in}}}} \)

Input cold fluid temperature (°C)

\( {\hbox{T}}_{{\infty - - {\rm{out}}}} \)

Out cold fluid temperature (°C)

\( Z \)

The figure of merit (1/K) \( = \alpha^{2} /\rho {\hbox{k}} \)


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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringJazan UniversityJazanSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringKing Abdulaziz UniversityRabighSaudi Arabia

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