DOI: 10.3390/en17010204 ISSN: 1996-1073

An Efficient Electrothermal Model of a Thermoelectric Converter for a Thermal Energy Harvesting Process Simulation and Electronic Circuits Powering

Piotr Dziurdzia, Piotr Bratek, Michał Markiewicz
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Building and Construction

This paper deals with an electrothermal model of a thermoelectric converter dedicated to performing simulations of coupled thermal and electrical phenomena taking place in harvesting processes. The proposed model is used to estimate the electrical energy gain from waste heat that would be sufficient to supply electronic circuits, in particular autonomous battery-less nodes of wireless sensor networks (WSN) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The developed model is not limited to low-power electronic solutions such as WSN or IoT; it can also be scaled up and applied to simulations of considerably higher thermal power conversion. In this paper, a few practical case studies are presented that show the feasibility and suitability of the proposed model for complex simultaneous simulation processes in both the electrical and thermal domains. The first example deals with a combined simulation of the electrothermal model of a thermoelectric generator (TEG) and an electronic harvester circuit based on Analog Devices’ power management integrated circuit LTC3108. The second example relates to the thermalization effect in heat sink-less harvesting applications that could be mitigated by a pulse mode operation. The unique contribution and advancement of the model is the hierarchical structure for scaling up and down, incorporating the complexity of the Seebeck effect, the Joule effect, heat conduction, as well as the temperature dependence of the used materials and the thermoelectric pellet geometries. The simulations can be performed in steady as well as transient states under changing electrical loads and temperatures.

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