Modeling and simulation of a segmented thermoelectric generator
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Interest in thermoelectric generators for waste heat recovery has flourished in recent years. Typically, the efficiency of thermoelectric generators (TEGs) is quite low. Investigations are conducted in this thesis to get better performance and efficiency. The segmented leg generator is investigated as it is a promising method to increase a conventional TEGs' efficiency. This project presents the simulation model of a TEG with eight pairs of segmented legs. The simulation model is built with exactly the same materials and the same size as a physical TEG reported in the literature. Then the simulation model is compared with the prototype physical model to testify the accuracy of the simulation. The error between them is around 10 percent which is acceptable. After achieving the model of a segmented TEG, several methods are explored to improve its output power and conversion efficiency. Those methods include raising the working temperature, replacing the thermoelectric materials and reconfiguring the TEG geometry. It was found that the original model can be further optimized. After optimization, the output power increases from 188.2mW to 354.7mW, 703.13mW, and 212.85mW, respectively. Conversion efficiency increases from 1.66 percent to 2.08 percent, 7.03 percent, and 1.85 percent, respectively. Finally, a general method to design a segmented TEG is developed, using all knowledge gained from the computer simulations.
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