Numerical simulation of segmented ratio in bismuth telluride and skutterudites for waste heat recovery

The study focuses on numerical simulation to optimize the design of segmented modules. This approach is based on the selection of materials for different segments that are optimized in terms of their TE properties with respect to the temperature range to which they are exposed during module operation.

In this study, a three-dimensional finite element model of segmented bismuth telluride and skutterudites are established to investigate the thermoelectric performance. In order to simplify the model, the single thermocouple is established to discuss the influence of the segmented ratio of the thermoelectric legs on the thermoelectric performance and mechanical reliability firstly, and then the influence of the number of thermocouples on the thermoelectric performance and mechanical reliability of the whole annular thermoelectric generator is studied. The thermoelectric materials are low-temperature bismuth telluride and medium temperature skutterudites. Two modes of segmented ratios of p-leg and n-leg are analyzed based on different boundary conditions, such as heat source temperature, cold source temperature, and ratios of two thermoelectric materials. These results are expected to be helpful in the design of actual annular thermoelectric generators.

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