Thermoelectric energy conversion offers a unique solution for generating electricity from waste heat. However, despite recent improvements in the efficiency of thermoelectric materials, the widespread application of thermoelectric generators has been hampered by challenges in fabricating thermoelectric materials with appropriate dimensions to perfectly fit heat sources. Herein, we report an extrusion-based three-dimensional printing method to produce thermoelectric materials with geometries suitable for heat sources. All-inorganic viscoelastic inks were synthesized using Sb2Te3 chalcogenidometallate ions as inorganic binders for Bi2Te3-based particles. Three-dimensional printed materials with various geometries showed homogenous thermoelectric properties, and their dimensionless figure-of-merit values of 0.9 (p-type) and 0.6 (n-type) were comparable to the bulk values. Conformal cylindrical thermoelectric generators made of 3D-printed half rings mounted on an alumina pipe were studied both experimentally and computationally. Simulations show that the power output of the conformal, shape-optimized generator is higher than that of conventional planar generators.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology