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Numerical and experimental study of cascaded-type thermoelectric module for thermoelectric generator

Thermoelectric modules are the core elements of thermoelectric generator (TEG). Nowadays, a big effort is put on improving the energy efficiency of devices and processes and promote environmentally friendly industrial approach. Thermoelectric generators, due to their undeniable advantages should be considered to be installed as a waste heat recovery systems for automotive applications. Unfortunately, already developed TEGs suffer from relatively low conversion efficiency. Application of cascaded-type thermoelectric modules is one method to increase overall efficiency of TEGs. The project of cascaded-type thermoelectric module, composed of two commercial thermoelectric modules was proposed. Low temperature and high temperature modules were connected thermally in parallel to be able to convert more heat into electricity than standard module. Experimental studies of cascaded-type module were performed to estimate operational parameters, thermal match between modules and overall conversion efficiency. A plenty of studies were done for different input conditions to evaluate the influence of waste heat source potential on module output parameters. Numerical study was carried out to analyze temperature distribution within the module and to define methods to increase thermal performance of entire module to meet operation requirements. Techniques to increase effectiveness of cascaded-type thermoelectric module were highlighted and discussed. Outcomes from this study will provide guidelines for further studies of generators for recovery of waste heat from exhausts gases of engines.
Topic: Engine thermal loading and utilization of heat released
Author: Michał Musiał
Co-authors: Marcin Borcuch, Stanisław Gumuła, Krzysztof Wojciechowski