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Three Dimensional TCAD Simulation of a Thermoelectric Module Suitable for use in a Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting System

GOULD, Christopher and SHAMMAS, Noel (2012) Three Dimensional TCAD Simulation of a Thermoelectric Module Suitable for use in a Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting System. In: Small-scale energy harvesting. Typesetting InTech Prepress, Janeza Trdine 9, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia, pp. 29-42. ISBN 978-953-51-0826-9

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Abstract or description

Thermoelectric technology can be used to generate electrical power from heat, temperature differences and temperature gradients, and is ideally suited to generate low levels of electrical power in energy harvesting systems. This chapter aims to describe the main elements of a thermoelectric energy harvesting system, highlighting the limitations in performance of current thermoelectric generators, and how these problems can be overcome by using external electronic components and circuitry, in order to produce a thermoelectric energy harvesting system that is capable of providing sufficient electrical power to operate other low power electronic systems, electronic sensors, microcontrollers, and replace or recharge batteries in several applications. The chapter then discusses a novel approach to improving the thermoelectric properties and efficiency of thermoelectric generators, by creating a 3D simulation model of a three couple thermoelectric module, using the Synopsys Technology Computer Aided Design (TCAD) semiconductor simulation software package. Existing published work in the area of thermoelectric module modelling and simulation has emphasised the use of ANSYS, COMSOL and Spice compatible software. The motivation of this work is to use the TCAD semiconductor simulation environment in order to conduct a more detailed thermal and electrical simulation of a thermoelectric module, than has previously been published using computer based simulation software packages. The successful modelling and simulation of a thermoelectric module in TCAD will provide a base for further research into thermoelectric effects, new material structures, module design, and the improvement of thermoelectric efficiency and technology. The aim of the work presented in this chapter is to investigate the basic principle of thermoelectric power generation in the TCAD simulation environment. The initial model, and simulation results presented, successfully demonstrate the fundamental thermoelectric effects, and the concept of thermoelectric power generation. Future work will build on this initial model, and further analysis of the thermal and electrical simulation results will be published.

This chapter begins with a short background review of thermoelectric technology, followed by an overview of a typical thermoelectric module’s construction, highlighting the main elements, material structure, and connection details for thermoelectric power generation.

The chapter then discuses a generic design of a thermoelectric energy harvesting system that incorporates a thermoelectric module with a boost converter, low power DC to DC converter, and a supercapacitor. The 3D modelling of a thermoelectric module is then presented, including the simulation results obtained for the thermal and electrical characteristics of the device when it is connected as a thermoelectric generator. Different thermoelectric couple and module designs have been investigated, and the simulation results have been discussed with reference to fundamental thermoelectric theory. The chapter draws conclusions on the application of thermoelectric technology for energy harvesting, and the validity and effectiveness of the 3D TCAD thermoelectric module simulation model for thermoelectric power generation.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Subjects: H100 General Engineering
H600 Electronic and Electrical Engineering
H900 Others in Engineering
Faculty: Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences > Engineering
Depositing User: Noel SHAMMAS
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2013 16:27
Last Modified: 14 May 2013 20:16

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