Research Papers

Design Methodology of Large-Scale Thermoelectric Generation: A Hierarchical Modeling Approach

[+] Author and Article Information
Min Chen

Institute of Energy Technology,
Aalborg University,
Pontoppidanstraede 101,
Aalborg DK-9220, Denmark
e-mail: mch@et.aau.dk

Junling Gao

School of Mechanical and Auto Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Wushan Road, Tianhe District,
Guangzhou 510641, China;
Hebei University of Science and Technology,
Yuhua East Road,
Shijiazhuang 050018, P. R. China

Jianzhong Zhang

R&D Center,
Fuxin Electronic Technology Co. Ltd.,
No. 20 Keyuan Road 3, Gaoli,
Ronggui, District Shunde, Fushan,
Guangdong 528306, China

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received December 12, 2011; final manuscript received May 22, 2012; published online October 12, 2012. Assoc. Editor: Manohar S. Sohal.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 4(4), 041003 (Oct 12, 2012) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007223 History: Received December 12, 2011; Revised May 22, 2012

A thermoelectric generation system (TEGS) used in the practical industry of waste heat recovery consists of the fluidic heat sources, the external load circuitry, and many thermoelectric modules (TEMs) connected as a battery bank. In this paper, a system-level model is proposed to seamlessly integrate the complete fluid-thermal-electric-circuit multiphysics behaviors in a single circuit simulator using electrothermal analogy. First, a quasi one-dimension numerical model for the thermal fluids and their nonuniform temperature distribution as the boundary condition for TEMs is implemented in simulation program with integrated circuit emphasis (SPICE)-compatible environment. Second, the electric field calculation of the device-level model is upgraded to reflect the resistive behaviors of thermoelements, so that the electric connections among spatially distributed TEMs and the load circuitry can be freely combined in the simulation. Third, a hierarchical and TEM-object oriented strategy are developed to make the system modeling as well as the design scalable, flexible, and programmable. To validate the proposed system model, a TEGS, including eight TEMs is constructed. Through comparisons between simulation results and experimental data, the proposed model shows sufficient accuracy so that a straightforward cooptimization of the entire TEGS of large scale can be carried out.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
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Fig. 1

Quasi-1D modeling of TEGS

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Fig. 2

Electrical modeling of thermoelement control volume. (a) General dc voltage source with an internal resistance. (b) Equivalent network by the SPICE function SUM. (c) Equivalent network by Thevenins theorem. (d) Refined Thevenins equivalent network.

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Fig. 3

Circuit implementation of TEM electrical model by equivalent current sources with temperature-dependent Seebeck EMF and internal resistance of p-type and n-type legs

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Fig. 4

Hierarchical and TEM-object oriented design of TEGS

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Fig. 6

The spatial arrangement of the eight TEMs and four heat exchangers and the electrical connection

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Fig. 7

Output power comparison between simulation and measured results for various temperature differences (testing cases 1–8 in Table 1)

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Fig. 8

Simulated outlet temperature, measured outlet temperature, and measured inlet temperature for various temperature differences (testing cases 1–8 in Table 1)

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Fig. 9

Output current comparison between simulation and measured results for various loads (testing cases 1–9 in Table 2)

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Fig. 10

Output power comparison between simulation and measured results for various loads (testing cases 1–9 in Table 2)

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Fig. 11

Simulated outlet temperature, measured outlet temperature, and measured inlet temperature for various loads (testing cases 1–9 in Table 2)



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