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International Journal of Chemical Engineering
Volume 2016, Article ID 6914735, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/6914735
Research Article

Exact Optimum Design of Segmented Thermoelectric Generators

1Mechanical Engineering Department, Amirkabir University of Technology, 424 Hafez Avenue, P.O. Box 15875-4413, Tehran, Iran
2Center of Excellence in Design and Optimization of Energy Systems, School of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Received 11 December 2015; Revised 10 March 2016; Accepted 20 March 2016

Academic Editor: Pouria Ahmadi

Copyright © 2016 M. Zare et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

A considerable difference between experimental and theoretical results has been observed in the studies of segmented thermoelectric generators (STEGs). Because of simplicity, the approximate methods are widely used for design and optimization of the STEGs. This study is focused on employment of exact method for design and optimization of STEGs and comparison of exact and approximate results. Thus, using new highly efficient thermoelectric materials, four STEGs are proposed to operate in the temperature range of 300 to 1300 kelvins. The proposed STEGs are optimally designed to achieve maximum efficiency. Design and performance characteristics of the optimized generators including maximum conversion efficiency and length of elements are calculated through both exact and approximate methods. The comparison indicates that the approximate method can cause a difference up to 20% in calculation of some design characteristics despite its appropriate results in efficiency calculation. The results also show that the maximum theoretical efficiency of 23.08% is achievable using the new proposed STEGs. Compatibility factor of the selected materials for the proposed STEGs is also calculated using both exact and approximate methods. The comparison indicates a negligible difference in calculation of compatibility factor, despite the considerable difference in calculation of reduced efficiency (temperature independence efficiency).