Transient Thermoelectric Generator: An Active Load Story
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Under stationary conditions, the optimization of maximum power output and efficiency of thermoelectric generators (TEG) is a well-known subject. Use of a finite-time thermodynamics (FTT) approach to the description of TEGs has demonstrated that there exists a closed feedback effect between the output electrical load value and the entering heat current. From the practical point of view, this effect is strongly evidenced by the use of direct current (DC-to-DC) converters as active loads. Both transient conditions and FTT contribute to a complex landscape of the optimization of the power and efficiencies of a TEG. It has been claimed that the use of inductive load may lead to a strong enhancement of the efficiency, and the frequency response of a TEG as a band-pass filter has also been recently reported. We consider these results using a classical linear Onsager approach of a TEG operating under transient conditions. We show that a trans-admittance may be defined as a coupling element between the input and the output, leading to the observed electric-to-thermal feedback. We discuss recent experiments on a TEG connected to an active load, which is reported to boast an efficiency exceeding the usual stationary DC thermoelectric efficiency.
KeywordsThermoelectric energy conversion thermoelectric devices thermodynamic constraints on energy production
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