Heat and Mass Transfer

, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 3249–3256 | Cite as

Discussion on the solar concentrating thermoelectric generation using micro-channel heat pipe array



Heat pipe is a high efficient tool in solar energy applications. In this paper, a novel solar concentrating thermoelectric generation using micro-channel heat pipe array (STEG-MCHP) was presented. The flat-plate micro-channel heat pipe array not only has a higher heat transfer performance than the common heat pipe, but also can be placed on the surface of TEG closely, which can further reduce the thermal resistance between the heat pipe and the TEG. A preliminary comparison experiment was also conducted to indicate the advantages of the STEG-MCHP. The optimization based on the model verified by the experiment was demonstrated, and the concentration ratio and selective absorbing coating area were also discussed. In addition, the cost analysis was also performed to compare between the STEG-MCHP and the common solar concentrating TEGs in series. The outcome showed that the solar concentrating thermoelectric generation using micro-channel heat pipe array has the higher electrical efficiency and lower cost, which may provide a suitable way for solar TEG applications.

List of symbols


Area of selective absorbing coating


Cross-sectional area of a P or N leg m2


Concentration ratio


Local friction coefficient


Specific heat of air kJ/(kg K)


Heat flux via conduction W


Heat flux via convection W


Solar energy absorbed by selective absorbing coating W


Heat flux via radiation W


Solar radiation W/m2


Coefficient of convection heat transfer W/(m2K)


Coefficient of radiation heat transfer W/(m2K)


Current A


Thermal conductivity of heat pipe W m−1 k−1


Thermal conductivity of air W m−1 k−1


Thermal conductivity of TEG W m−1 k−1


Length of the heat sink m


Length of heat pipe m


Height of TEG m


Numbers of PN junction


Nuselt number


Prandtl number


Energy that passed in hot side of the TEG W


Energy that passed out of cold side of the TEG W


Resistance of the heat conduction in heat sink KW−1

\(R_{{\text{cov} f}}\)

Thermal resistance of convection Heat transfer between heat sink and ambient air KW−1


Thermal contact resistance between selective absorbing coating and heat pipe KW−1


Thermal contact resistance between heat pipe and the TEG KW−1


Thermal contact resistance between TEG and heat sink KW−1


Thermal resistance of the heat sink KW−1


Electrical resistivity of P or N junction Ω m


Reynolds number


Stanton number


Cross section area of the heat sink m2


Total area of the heat sink m2


Temperature of ambient air K


Temperature of the evaporating side of the heat pipe K


The temperature of cold side of TEG K


Temperature of the hot side of TEG K


Temperature of the condensate side of the heat pipe K


Temperature of absorbing coating K


Temperature of sky K


Wind speed m/s

Greek letters


Heat diffusivity m2/s


Absorptivity of absorbing coating


Seebeck coefficient VK−1


Stefan–Boltzmann constant Wm−2 K−4


Reflectivity of absorbing coating


Viscosity (dynamic)2, N.s/m2


Kinematic viscosity, \({{{\text{m}}^{2} } \mathord{\left/ {\vphantom {{{\text{m}}^{2} } {\text{s}}}} \right. \kern-0pt} {\text{s}}}\)


Density of air kg/m3



The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51408578, 51611130195), Anhui Provincial Natural Science Foundation (1508085QE96).


  1. 1.
    He W, Zhang G, Zhang X, Ji J, Li G, Zhao X (2015) Recent development and application of thermoelectric generator and cooler. Appl Energy 143:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    He W, Su Y, Riffat SB, Hou JX, Ji J (2011) Parametrical analysis of the design and performance of a solar heat pipe thermoelectric generator unit. Appl Energy 88:5083–5089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    He W, Su Y, Wang YQ, Riffat SB, Ji J (2012) A study on incorporation of thermoelectric modules with evacuated-tube heat-pipe solar collectors. Renew Energy 37:142–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dai YJ, Hu HM, Ge TS, Wang RZ, Kjellsen P (2016) Investigation on a mini-CPC hybrid solar thermoelectric generator unit. Renew Energy 92:83–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Li G, Ji J, Zhang G, He W, Chen X, Chen H (2016) Performance analysis on a novel micro-channel heat pipe evacuated tube solar collector-incorporated thermoelectric generation. Int J Energy Res 40:2117–2127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hung YM, Tio K-K (2012) Thermal analysis of optimally designed inclined micro heat pipes with axial solid wall conduction. Int Commun Heat Mass Transf 39:1146–1153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    He W, Zhang G, Li G, Ji J (2015) Analysis and discussion on the impact of non-uniform input heat flux on thermoelectric generator array. Energy Convers Manag 98:268–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Deng Y, Zhao Y, Wang W, Quan Z, Wang L, Yu D (2013) Experimental investigation of performance for the novel flat plate solar collector with micro-channel heat pipe array (MHPA-FPC). Appl Therm Eng 54(2):440–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Li G, Pei G, Ji J, Yang M, Su Y, Xu Ning (2015) Numerical and experimental study on a PV/T system with static miniature solar concentrator. Sol Energy 120:565–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bergman TL, Incropera FP, Lavine AS (2011) Fundamentals of heat and mass transfer. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Thermal Science and Energy EngineeringUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefei CityChina
  2. 2.Department of Precision Machinery and Precision InstrumentationUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Fire ScienceUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefei CityChina

Personalised recommendations