The use of thermoelectric generators (TEG) for the conversion of thermal energy into electric energy aims at increasing the overall efficiency of a plant/system by the energy recovery of waste heat.
The main activities of Lecco unit of CNR – ICMATE on the subject of thermoelectricity are the material synthesis and the development of new material processing techniques. The development of the activity starts from the synthesis of materials with different techniques ranging from traditional melting to powder metallurgy (mechanical alloying, solid state reactions), going down to powder sintering and material transformation using techniques typical of metallurgy (extrusion, rolling, wiring,…) conveniently set to achieve improved properties in the final samples.
The focus of the activity is on the preparation of powders, ceramics and composites of functional oxides and, in particular, transition metal oxides and perovskites such as BaTiO3, SrTiO3, and related compounds.
Adding nanoparticles having high thermal conductivity in base fluids could be usefully exploited in devices for heat transport, as long as some important issues are addressed and solved, such as the stability of the dispersions or the proper evaluation of their physical-chemical properties.
The electric micro-generation is gaining an increasing interest in the last years both for off-grid systems and for energy harvesting applications. In particular, starting from our skills and expertise in the field of microcombustion, the interest is now moving towards the development of co-generative and energy recovery systems based on Peltier cells.