Numerical Study on Nonuniform Segmented Enhancement Method for Thermoelectric Power Generator

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Numerical Heat Transfer, Part A: Applications

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Thermoelectric power generators (TEGs) have received considerable attention in the vehicular waste heat recovery. Large temperature difference between hot-side end and cold-side end of TE modules should be maintained to keep large power generation. However, the scaling-up problem of inevitably temperature drop of exhaust gas along the flow direction of vehicles is introduced when multiple TE modules are assembled. In this work, a three-dimensional fluid–thermal–electric multiphysics model with equivalent properties of TE modules is established. The influencing mechanism of longitudinal vortex generator (LVG) pair number and distribution in the hot-side heat exchanger on the local power generation performance of the TEGs is examined. It is found that the extent of the local power generation enhancement gets smaller or even deteriorates at the downstream TE modules by uniformly increasing the LVG pair number along the flow direction. Hence, to make the heat flux efficiently utilized, a nonuniform segmented enhancement method is used for the hot-side heat exchanger. The results show that compared with the TEG with a uniform heat exchanger or a downstream-denser heat exchanger, the total Seebeck voltage generated by the TEG with an upstream-denser heat exchanger is 28% higher, and its output power is 64.4% higher at the matched load resistance. The TEG with the upstream-denser heat exchanger significantly improves the overall power generation performance without additional pumping power.


Electro-Mechanical Systems | Mechanical Engineering



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