Heat transfer characteristics of a thermoelectric power generator system for low-grade waste heat recovery from the sugar industry


A numerical model was developed to simulate thermal conductivity and electrical energy transfer processes in a thermoelectric generator (TEG) designed for low-grade waste heat recovery in the sugar industry. In this study, the researchers selected four thermoelectric (TE) cooling modules of TEC1-12706 and TEC1-12710 and TE power modules of SP1848-27145 SA and TEG1-127-40-40-250 for testing of low-grade heat at a temperature of 200 °C. The test results indicated that an aluminium plate of 10 mm in thickness was most effective for creating heat exchange that is favourable for installation in a TEG system. The TEC1-12710 could generate a maximum power output of 126.15 W at a matched load of about 1.65 Ω. The thermoelectric power generation system can convert 11.5% of heat energy into electrical energy. Finally, the electrical energy costs for TEC1-12710 were estimated to be USD$ 0.22 per kWh, which is comparable to TEC1-12706, SP1848-27145 SA and TEG1-127-40-40-250. Therefore, the TE cooling module in the current work is an interesting and new alternative for power generation from waste heat in sugarcane industries.

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This research was financially supported by the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), Ministry of Energy is gratefully acknowledged. The cooperation of the Office of The Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB), the pilot plant development and various sugar mills in providing information and assistance are deeply appreciated. Thanks are also due to the support of Research and Energy Management Center, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Naresuan University, Phitsanulok (Thailand).

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Correspondence to Weera Punin.

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Punin, W., Maneewan, S. & Punlek, C. Heat transfer characteristics of a thermoelectric power generator system for low-grade waste heat recovery from the sugar industry. Heat Mass Transfer 55, 979–991 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00231-018-2481-5

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  • Thermoelectric power generator system
  • Heat transfer effect
  • Low-grade waste heat recovery
  • Sugar industry