Energy

Thermoelectric paint generates electricity from almost any heat source

Thermoelectric paint generates...
In order to create thermal generators that capture and convert waste heat into electricity from objects of almost any shape, scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology  claim to have created a thermoelectric coating that can be directly painted onto almost any surface
In order to create thermal generators that capture and convert waste heat into electricity from objects of almost any shape, scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology  claim to have created a thermoelectric coating that can be directly painted onto almost any surface
View 2 Images
In order to create thermal generators that capture and convert waste heat into electricity from objects of almost any shape, scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology  claim to have created a thermoelectric coating that can be directly painted onto almost any surface
1/2
In order to create thermal generators that capture and convert waste heat into electricity from objects of almost any shape, scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology  claim to have created a thermoelectric coating that can be directly painted onto almost any surface
A diagram illustrating the various steps in the new thermoelectric coating procedure
2/2
A diagram illustrating the various steps in the new thermoelectric coating procedure

Thermoelectric generators convert heat or cold to electricity (and vice-versa). Normally solid-state devices, they can be used in such things as power plants to convert waste heat into additional electrical power, or in small cooling systems that do not need compressors or liquid coolant. However the rigid construction of these devices generally limits their use to flat, even surfaces. In an effort to apply thermal generation capabilities to almost any shape, scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Korea claim to have created a thermoelectric coating that can be directly painted onto most surfaces.

Variously known as the Peltier, Seebeck, or Thomson effect, the thermoelectric effect is seen in semiconductor devices that create a voltage when a different temperature is present on each side or, when a voltage is applied to the device, it creates a temperature difference between the two sides.

The specially-formulated inorganic thermoelectric paint was created using Bi2Te3 (bismuth telluride) and Sb2Te3 (antimony telluride) particles to create two types of semiconducting material. To test the resultant mixture, the researchers applied alternate p-type (positive) and n-type (negative) layers of the thermoelectric semiconductor paint on a metal dome, generating an average power output of 4 mW per square centimeter.

A diagram illustrating the various steps in the new thermoelectric coating procedure
A diagram illustrating the various steps in the new thermoelectric coating procedure

Though not quite up to the 40 mW per square centimeter of some flexible thermoelectric generators, such as KAIST's wearable device (or even close to the high-power delivered by Northwestern University's thermoelectric material), the major advantage of the UNIST prototype is that it can be applied to almost any surface with just a paintbrush.

"By developing integral thermoelectric modules through painting process, we have overcome limitations of flat thermoelectric modules and are able to collect heat energy more efficiently." said Professor Son of UNIST. "Thermoelectric generation systems can be developed as whatever types user want and cost from manufacturing systems can also be greatly reduced by conserving materials and simplifying processes."

According to the UNIST researchers, it should one day be possible to convert heat to electricity by simply painting the external surfaces of buildings, on roofs, and on the exterior of cars, and open the way to many other materials and devices easily transferred to many other voltage-generation applications.

"Our thermoelectric material can be applied any heat source regardless of its shape, type and size." said Professor Son. "It will place itself as a new type of new and renewable energy generating system."

The results of this research were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: UNIST

7 comments
GeoffProven
Please show how the power is transmitted from the paint to cable.
Peter Kelly
Such ideas sound wonderful and, certainly, the less wasted energy the better, but I can't help thinking that coating vast areas of building with Antimony and Tellurium is not such a good idea. How long before we would have another 'asbestos' type disaster on our hands, together with endless stories of firefighters being poisoned when such painted buildings go up in flames?
Ramesh037
I experimented to produce magnetized water. The mistake which I committed was I used plastic bottles. I drank this water which in the beginning very good results. My grey hair turned partially black and then everything started changing. The hair started becoming white faster. Today my skin has started turning white as like leucoderma patients have. All plastic bottles have antimony and this alone has to be handled with great care. Many things sound great and good but comes later can be horribly bad, example: Thalidomide. I hope people have not forgetten this tragedy of yester years.
wle
since this 'excess heat' comes from the sun, please say how much more or less efficient this is than PV panels, or that new PV paint. also the cost.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
A good candidate is engine paint. The percent increase in toxicity would be infinitesimal. This would be a high value application.
Richard D. McDowell
Exhaust manifolds on hybrid cars for additional charging of batteries and on ships engines. Boggles the mind...
DouglasAnkrum
.I'm assuming there would still need to de a temperature differential between the 'hot' side and the 'cold' side of the painted surface.....