Global energy uncertainty and the limited recourses coupled with increased energy needs fuels the search for improving the efficiency of energy conversion technologies. Although the EU policies target increased use of renewable energy to 12% of gross energy production by 2010, this commitment has also highlighted the urgent need for improving the energy utilization of fossil-fuel based power-plants to allow continuation of the energy intensive lifestyle of EU countries.
Thermoelectric (TE) devices can play a very important role in efficient energy harvesting, and recovery. TE devices are ‘fuel-free’ solid-state devices with no moving parts and therefore are extremely reliable. TEs can harvest residual low-grade energy which otherwise is wasted. To date, their use is limited by low conversion efficiency. The key factor for improving the performance of TE applications is mainly through the development of TE materials as well as corresponding TE module/device technology and design, based on the material types, which can ensure better performance. Recent advances in nanotechnology offer unprecedented opportunities in designing and fabricating increasingly complex material architectures with controlled and hierarchical microstructures. Theoretical predictions showed that low-dimensional TE materials with figure of merits (a measure of the goodness of TE materials) can be spectacularly enhanced from currently ~1 to extremely high values of 5 -10 (up to 20). The present proposal is concerned with applying modern nanotechnology principles to the design and creation of novel material architectures with enhanced TE properties, with close feedback with theoretical studies. The material architectures considered in this proposal are chosen based on suitability for the development of next generation TE modules and devices, designed for a few specific promising applications including harvesting waste energy from automobiles and environmentally benign, efficient cooling systems
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeCP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project