Join Us at the 37th Annual International Conference on Thermoelectrics (ICT 2018)

Thermoelectric generator module thermal image

Join Us at the 37th Annual International Conference on Thermoelectrics (ICT 2018)

When: July 1-5, 2018 

Where: Caen France

Our Presentation Topic:

Detailed Transient Multiphysics Model for Fast and Accurate Design, Simulation and Optimization of a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) or Thermal Energy Harvesting Device

Why Thermoelectric Generator Modeling Research is Important

Thermal and electrical modeling is extremely important for the investigation of thermoelectric power generation (TEG) applications, product design, and research activities. To understand thermoelectric generator behavior under many operating conditions or to find the optimal design from many possible designs, hundreds or thousands of different scenarios need to be considered and simulated. Without modeling and simulation, the cost and lead time required to physically test a high number of prototypes would be impractical. The benefits of modeling and simulation can also be multiplied. Improving the speed of the model can reduce lead time and costs. Conversely, lead time can remain the same and a faster model will allow more to be done. Modeling accuracy is another very important feature. An accurate model means fewer design revisions and therefore fewer expensive and time-consuming prototypes and testing needed for final design validation. A fast model also requires less time to find good model correlation. 

A literature review identified the need for a TEG model with more detail and for one that makes use of a comprehensive set of physics and model features. The desired modeling physics and features utilized in the subject model include Seebeck, Peltier, Thomson, Joule and Fourier effects. These effects are captured using distributed mass and heat flows in the thermoelements, distributed temperature dependent properties, thermal and electrical interface resistances, and Joule heat generation within the interconnects.

It was the objective of this research to develop a TEG model that was detailed, comprehensive, fast, accurate and have the ability to model the complete thermal and electrical system and controls like maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The model was correlated and compared against challenging experimental data that varied hot and cold side temperature simultaneously with time and at the same time imposed a transient electrical current. The model was in excellent agreement with experimental data.

Why Thermoelectric Research Benefits our Customers

To understand the benefits to our customers, it is essential to understand the differences between engineering and scientific research. Some define scientific research as the creative study of the physical world and engineering as the resourceful application of the knowledge gained from that study. In this view, scientific research can be looked at as creation of theories or discovery and engineering as more of implementation of those discovery and theories. Engineers utilize practical knowledge, they apply design practices, creativity, trade-off analysis and know how to apply constraints and limits to make useful and practical applications. 

We believe engineering and scientific research are complimentary thought processes that should not be separated. Often these two thought processes are separated historically by job titles. When we can actively get engineers thinking in ways that are typically arbitrarily reserved for research scientists and research scientists thinking in ways that are arbitrarily reserved for engineers, this is where interdisciplinary boundaries are broken, and magic happens.

Benefits of Interdisciplinary Thinking

  • Broadened knowledge of the subject matter
  • Deeper understanding of the landscape of solutions
  • Grasp of connections within and outside of the topic area
  • Understanding of fallacies and biases in prevailing thinking
  • Comprehensive awareness of the state-of-the-art
  • Stronger ability to find complex solutions

The vast majority of thermoelectric companies focus their efforts on manufacturing. We focus on advancing thermoelectrics design. Of the manufacturing focused thermoelectric companies, the majority provide services to assemble their off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all components. Other thermoelectric suppliers offer some level of engineering for their off-the-shelf solutions, fewer offer engineering and research & development and still fewer yet strive to combine the research & development methods with engineering methods to find cost and performance optimized solutions. 

We believe Interdisciplinary thinking is important because it enables us to find the best possible solutions for your product. Additionally, rather than focus our efforts on manufacturing and off-the-shelf solutions that leave your system over or under designed at your expense, we provide custom and optimized engineered solutions for the unique design requirements of your application.

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Technical, engineering and consulting services for your thermoelectric cooling or thermoelectric power generation idea, application or product.

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  • Take the fastest, least risky and most effective route to your goals
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