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Thermoelectric Devices Do Double Duty

Posted November 08, 2011 8:05 AM

Systems designed to harness the power of the sun typically generate one of two products: electricity or heat. Why not both? That's the question researchers at MIT set out to answer in a recent study. What they discovered was that solar power systems that could produce heat and electricity simultaneously promise significant advantages. The study incorporated thermoelectric devices that can produce an electric current from a temperature gradient, producing hot water and electricity. Benefits include cost savings and versatility. Are such systems commercially viable?

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Guru

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#1

Re: Thermoelectric Devices Do Double Duty

11/09/2011 5:56 AM

This research focuses on parabolic reflectors that are only suitable for larger commercial systems. But the concept of dual output from all systems should be researched.

The output of photovoltaic panels drops dramatically as temperature increases. Drawing off the heat to power solar water heating is an obvious solution to this problem.

Options for research could include: water ducts cast into an aluminium rear support for the PE cell arrays, hollow tubes filled with running water, shaped as lenses to concentrate the sun onto PE cells, taking advantage of the temperature difference between the top and undersides of a PE array using Peltier-Seebeck effects.

Solar thermal and solar electric are currently seen as alternative technologies but they could be viewed as complementary technologies.

While on this subject, the 'wind v wave' debate could look at tethering Pelamis strings or nodding ducks to the base of offshore wind turbines and doubling utilisation of the tower to shore cable link and the maintenance infrastructure, while creating a no fishing/fish breeding zone. How much energy is available form the vortexes generated as current flows around the base of offshore turbine towers? Or could waves be admitted to the base of a tower with the rise and fall creating an air/water piston driving additional turbines?

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Guru
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#2
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Re: Thermoelectric Devices Do Double Duty

11/09/2011 9:41 AM

My personal experience suggests that Peltier-Seebeck devices are not cost effective for many applications. However, the combination of heat extraction with conventional photovoltaic panels makes a lot of sense.

There are some designs on the drawing boards of various entities for piston-driven wave energy capture devices, although I know of no efforts to combine such systems with wind energy systems. It does make sense, however, to combine wind and wave energy generation (or tidal current systems, where appropriate) in the same off-shore structure, although I am not convinced that wind energy systems currently available are capable of delivering on their promises...

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Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2008
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#3

Re: Thermoelectric Devices Do Double Duty

11/09/2011 10:38 AM

Solid oxide fuel cell technology gives both heat and power. It starts working at 600oC and produce optimum power around 850oC. The exhaust gas is hot steam and can be used to heat house and water tank.

Produces electricity to light up house on personnel level and town on public utility level.

Solar also produces heat and power but heat is not enough to use for heating house or water as efficient as solid oxide fuel cell and is the reason they separated in heat generating or for lighting use system.

Real product for western world may be solid oxide fuel cell and for Africa and countries near equator is solar. Both makes power democratization and because of this we do not have to depend on grid and big corporation. This is reason I left my semiconductor job and started working on green power.

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