This is a fascinating area. Sooner or later, some technology will reach the point where the efficiencies enable adoption and we all reap the benefits. This could go a long way toward making the hybrid vehicle more electric.
Very interesting idea...one problem is obvious: you need to increase efficiency, the second is probably less obvious: how rare is this material?...we see now that some technologies based on rare materials can be expanded on a massive scale due to material shortages (and increased material costs)...Kris
not only LEDs, we can think of myriad applications where efficient heat conversion into electricity can be used. Depending on how expensive the material will be, it can be alternative way to generate electricity.
Yes, I agree regarding LEDs. Today a lot of effort is being put into keeping solid-state lighting cool, since am LED's lifetime is drastically shorted by overheating. Using thermoelectrics could cool LED arrays and recycle the energy to lower your electricity bill too!
For automotive applications, the researchers said the thermoelectric material would recover the heat before the exhaust enters the catalytic converter, which usually have temperature sensors inside. Of course, temperature would have to be monitored by the control electronics to make sure the thermoelectric do not cooled the catalytic converter below its optimal operating temperature.
After the catalytic converter, how much heat can be "mined" from the vehicle exhaust before there are environmental or operational efficiency impacts? This technology could also harvest waste heat from furnaces while electronically ensuring that the temperature doesn't get too low which would increase chimney deposits and impair the necessary vertical convection draft.
The TEG devices or the TEC devices need to maintain a highest possible temp difference across its sides for maximum efficiency .This is highly complicated.If this new invention does not need this to be done then it will have a commercial win.
On one hands, this is a fantastic news. Energy harvesting is going to be, if not already, the next biggest research area in this decade. There will be more people benefit from the result.
On the other hands, more rare earth material is going to be used. I hope there is innovation in material science and nanotech that an alternative will be found in the near future.