Development of Compliant Thermoelectric Generators (TEGs) in Aerospace Applications Using Topology Optimization

Modelling thermoelectric generator design for future 3-D printing.

(De Gruyter) – Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are made to be mounted on flat surfaces free of vibrations. Brittle materials under plane-stress conditions will fail. Failure starts with a brittle fracture whereby a rapid run of cracks through stressed material which sometimes can be induced by just thermal expansion.

TEGs may be made of Bismuth Telluride (Bi2Te.3) and have good thermoelectric properties but are very brittle. TEG shape and orientation relative to the thermal and structural loading are critical.

The authors propose a topology optimization approach to develop a compliant TEG, capable of maintaining thermoelectric functioning and sustaining mechanical loadings. They uniquely deal with multifunctional design of a composite TEG.

The volume fractions and orientation of the two materials were optimized to support applied structural shear, bending, and axial structural loads and thermal loads. A optimal structural model was shown to have equal shear and adjoint loads that resulted to a an increase of 9.61 % displacement while using 8.5 % less material. The integrated model (structural and thermal) used 8.5 % less material and had a 9.64 % increase in displacement.

The authors indicate that the research could help in the 3-D printing of more compliant TEGs optimized for particular applications.

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Edited for Content and Length by Dr. Matthew A. Hood.

The original full article can be found at De Gruyter in the journal Energy Harvesting and Systems.

DOI: 10.1515/ehs-2016-0017

Feature Photo/GettyImages

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