This Paint Can Turn Heat Into Electricity

Researchers have developed a thermoelectric paint that can convert almost any surface into an electricity generating one.

AsianScientist (Dec. 16, 2016) – Researchers in South Korea have developed a thermoelectric paint that can convert waste heat into electricity. Their findings have been published in Nature Communications.

The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and vice versa. The output power of thermoelectric generators depends on device engineering minimizing heat loss, as well as inherent material properties.

Existing thermoelectric generators are mostly flat or angular. However, heat sources typically curved, and attaching flat devices to these curved surfaces cause a considerable amount of heat loss.

To address this issue, a team of researchers led by Professor Jae Sung Son of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) developed a new type of high-performance thermoelectric material that behaves like a liquid and can be directly brush-painted on almost any surface.

To demonstrate the feasibility of the thermoelectric paint, they used it on flat, curved and large-sized hemispherical substrates to create heat-capturing devices with high output power densities of up to 4 mW/cm2.

“By developing integral thermoelectric modules through painting process, we have overcome limitations of flat thermoelectric modules and are able to collect heat energy more efficiently,” said Son.

“[With this paint], thermoelectric generation systems can be developed however users want and cost from manufacturing systems can also be greatly reduced by conserving materials and simplifying processes.”

The article can be found at: Park et al. (2016) High-performance Shape-engineerable Thermoelectric Painting.


Source: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology.
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