Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are devices that employ Seebeck effect in thermopile to convert temperature gradient induced by waste heat into electrical power. Recently, TEGs have enticed increasing attention as green and flexible source of electricity able to meet wide range of power requirements from thermocouple sensors to power generators in satellites. Thermoelectric generators suffer from low‐conversion efficiency; however, they could be promising solutions, when they are used to harvest waste heat coming from industry processes or central‐heating systems. This chapter covers the working principles behind TEGs, depicts numerous schematics explaining functionality of TEGs, and investigates performance of TEGs. A detailed derivation process, which provides performance expressions dictating operation of TEGs, is exposed in this chapter. In addition, thermal resistance network is shown to explain thermal connection of thermocouples in TEGs in parallel and electrical connection of thermocouples in series. Performance features shown in this chapter are power output, efficiency, and voltage induced within TEG as functions of numerous parameters.
Part of the book: Thermoelectrics for Power Generation