Cost-effective waste heat recovery using thermoelectric systems


Optimizing thermoelectric (TE) materials and modules are important factors, which can lead to widespread adoption of waste heat recovery systems. The analytic co-optimization of the TE leg, heat sink, and the load resistance shows that all parameters entering the figure-of-merit (Z) do not have the same impact on cost/performance trade-off. Thermal conductivity of the TE material plays a more important role than the power factor. This study also explores the impact of heat losses and the required contact resistances. Finally, we present the theoretical cost performance ($/W) of TE waste heat recovery systems for vehicle waste heat recovery application, assuming hot side gas temperature of 600 °C and a cooling water temperature of 60 °C.

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Authors would like to acknowledge the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science - Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC), Center of Energy Efficient Materials, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) for financial support of this research.

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Correspondence to Kazuaki Yazawa.

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Yazawa, K., Shakouri, A. Cost-effective waste heat recovery using thermoelectric systems. Journal of Materials Research 27, 1211–1217 (2012).

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