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Role of Thermoelectrics in Energy Harvesting

This entry was posted in Energy Harvesting and Thermoelectrics on July 08, 2016 by II-VI Marlow Industries

Without realizing it, you likely come across examples of energy harvesting regularly. For instance, wind turbines convert wind into usable energy. Solar panels convert sunlight into energy. Hydroelectric dams make use of converting flowing water into energy. Other sources of energy harvesting include mechanical displacement and vibration.

Thermoelectrics are Beneficial to Energy Harvesting

Simply put, energy harvesting is the conversion of various forms of energy from the surrounding environment into useful electrical energy. It will become increasingly important in future years as nations look to rely more on sustainable resources.

Thermoelectric Modules

One of the most promising technologies that could pave the way for greater gains in energy harvesting are thermoelectric modules. These modules consist of a solid state semiconductor material, which offers the unique – and promising – ability to directly convert thermal energy into electrical energy. The larger the available temperature differential , the more efficient the performance.

Possible thermoelectric energy harvesting uses are vast, as they could be deployed to power everything from off-grid sensors in remote areas to refrigerators. But their potential is more far-reaching, due to a variety of benefits. According to data from IDTechEx, by the year 2016, thermoelectric energy harvesters are projected to be used in industries ranging from military and aerospace to healthcare to consumer goods. Other possible applications, as identified by IDTechEx, include waste heat recovery systems in automobiles, wireless sensor networks and consumer applications like mobile phones and even clothing.


The advantages of thermoelectric modules when it comes to energy harvesting are plentiful. These benefits include:

♦ They’re small and lightweight, and able to be packaged into settings.
♦ There are no moving parts, thereby making them inexpensive to produce
♦ They have practical applications.
♦ They are maintenance-free and can operate for more than 20 years without the need for necessary maintenance.
♦ They’re silent and quiet, both from an electric and acoustic standpoint.
♦ They can operate in just about any environment, such as zero gravity.
♦ They’re eco-friendly.
♦ They are bipolar and can harvest power from both hot surfaces or cold surfaces

Energy harvesting technologies are still in their infancy. They're likely going to become more important in the future as the means of becoming less dependent on natural resources is emphasized.

Whether you’re exploring outer space, working to develop the next cure for cancer or finding sustainable energy solutions, let us partner with you to help reach your goal. For specific information, contact II-VI Marlow and we will assist with the application and cooler selection.

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