Re ECF Project: 2014-44

Project Title: Thermoelectric assembly for vehicle waste heat recovery

Applicant: Dr A L Roy VELLAISAMY, City University of Hong Kong

Total Approved Grant: $1,960,000

Duration: 1/4/2015 to 31/3/2017

Project Status/Remarks: Completed

This project aims to dope nanomaterials for thermoelectric generator that works with high figure of merit value and at lower cost. The tasks involve:

  1. fabrication of inexpensive ZnSb nanostructure as thermoelectric materials;
  2. assembly of ZnSb nanostructure material into a peltier module plate with encapsulation and an efficiency of at least 10% heat into electricity; and
  3. implementation of thermoelectric modules surrounding an engine for the conversion of waste heat into electricity.

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes:
One component in the new energy landscape is believed to be thermo-electric (TE) systems which can generate electricity from waste heat or act as excellent solid state refrigerators and heat pumps. The bottleneck with respect to the utilization of thermo-electricity is the thermo-electric systems design that needs to be the best electric conductor and the worst thermal conductor. In addition, the TE system must produce a large voltage when exposed to a temperature gradient (i.e. definition of Seebeck coefficient). The project team focused on the TE materials and system design for applications in near room temperature. For thermoelectric devices to make a significant impact on energy and environment, the major impediment is the efficiency and the cost of current thermoelectric materials. This project mainly focused on inexpensive doped TE materials and TE power generator modules. The project team successfully accomplished the preparation of doped Zinc Antimonide materials, construction of TE devices and finally waste heat recovery systems based on TE devices. The waste heat recovery system was designed according to the requirements of the bus exhaust and generates electricity from the waste heat.