What is Thermoelectric: Definition and 40 Discussions

The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and vice versa via a thermocouple. A thermoelectric device creates a voltage when there is a different temperature on each side. Conversely, when a voltage is applied to it, heat is transferred from one side to the other, creating a temperature difference. At the atomic scale, an applied temperature gradient causes charge carriers in the material to diffuse from the hot side to the cold side.
This effect can be used to generate electricity, measure temperature or change the temperature of objects. Because the direction of heating and cooling is affected by the applied voltage, thermoelectric devices can be used as temperature controllers.
The term "thermoelectric effect" encompasses three separately identified effects: the Seebeck effect, Peltier effect, and Thomson effect. The Seebeck and Peltier effects are different manifestations of the same physical process; textbooks may refer to this process as the Peltier–Seebeck effect (the separation derives from the independent discoveries by French physicist Jean Charles Athanase Peltier and Baltic German physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck). The Thomson effect is an extension of the Peltier–Seebeck model and is credited to Lord Kelvin.
Joule heating, the heat that is generated whenever a current is passed through a conductive material, is not generally termed a thermoelectric effect. The Peltier–Seebeck and Thomson effects are thermodynamically reversible, whereas Joule heating is not.

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  1. N

    Could Radioisotope Thermoelectric generators power electric cars?

    Could electric cars be given longer range by radioisotope thermoelectric generators like they use to power spacecraft in deep space?
  2. ChadThePianist

    COMSOL Modeling help (ambient air around a thermoelectric module)

    Hello everyone, I am wondering how to model ambient air around a thermoelectric module in COMSOL. I am fairly new to the software and am doing undergraduate research revolved around it. Any help or pertinent examples would be appreciated. I can send/post screenshots and or .mph files if it would...
  3. J

    Question about thermal conductivity in thermoelectrics

    Does the phonon thermal conductivity account for a large part of the total thermal conductivity in thermoelectric materials like Bismuth Telluride? As far as I know, the phonon conductivity is the largest contributor to the total thermal conductivity in semiconductors. Is this still true for...
  4. O

    Thermoelectric Modules: Heat/Cold Ratio for Voltage

    What is the heat/cold ratio in thermoelectric modules to generate a specific voltage pls? old Bozo
  5. H

    How do thermoelectrics work?

    I understand that a current is generated when electrons move from an n type to a p type semiconductor. However, is this due to heat flowing through the system, or a temperature difference on either side of the thermoelectric generator? I know at first these sound like the same thing, but I am...
  6. Connor Schmitz

    Thermoelectric Compost Generator to Charge Batteries

    Hello, new to the forums. I am in school, as an Ecology major, but recently endured a long-awaited realization: I LOVE to build things! In my free time I find myself (attempting) figuring out how to build TEGs for our school's compost pile and creating all sorts of fancy aquaponics systems. I...
  7. J

    Modeling technique for Joule heating

    Good Day, I am looking for mathematical modelling of Joule heating of a simple cantilever beam . Can anybody provide me good source of relevant material. Thanks in advance.
  8. J

    What number TEC is the best for generating power?

    Does it matter using different number TEC for generating power? If it does which on is the best?
  9. J

    Why does seebeck plate resistance increase due to temperature?

    I just did a thermoelectric generator from seebeck plate. And when temperature increases, the plate's resistance increases from 12 ohms to 8 M ohms. Why is that and how todeal with it??
  10. evan manalu

    Thermoelectric (copper and iron at 1000C)

    Like attachment above When heat source give heat until 1000degree celcius Copper at center of cylinder iron Copper will hotter and iron will colder because ambient air Chamber is vaccum So there are different temperature between copper and iron How voltage will produce according to...
  11. M

    Thermoelectric devices and entropy

    Today in my thermodynamics class my professor spoke about how a process must satisfy the laws of thermodynamics in order to work. He gave an example of current going through a wire generating heat. (See attached picture) But he also talked about how adding heat to a wire and it generating a...
  12. S

    Dissimilar thermoelectric P-N junction materials

    Hi, I had a question about p-n junctions. I've only recently started to learn these concepts so there may be flaws in my thinking (please feel free to correct me). What I'm understanding is that for a p-n junction to function properly and produce a current when connected with a load across the...
  13. J

    Thermoelectric Cooling Modules

    hI'm hoping someone here is well versed at using thermoelectric cooling modules. I'm not able achieve anywhere near the cooling capacity shown in the datasheets and I'm pretty sure I've covered all possible things that could be going wrong. All I'm trying to do is maintain chilled water...
  14. M

    Calculating Mean Square Value of a Thermoelectric Ammeter Circuit

    I don't understand a few things here. Firstly, here's the question: This is thermoelectric ammeter. Internal resistance can be ignored. 1. Find the mean square value of the circuit. 2. Find the value that is displayed on the ammeter (alternating current). In the textbook, the formula for the...
  15. S

    Thermoelectric Generator Experiment

    Hi, I am trying to turn a thermoelectric peltier cooler I recently bought into a weak thermoelectric generator. (I bought this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002UQQ3Q2/?tag=pfamazon01-20 ) . I built a basic series circuit with 2 3V batteries and a 1 Ω resistor and this so I could...
  16. A

    Lead in Thermoelectric Series: Seebeck, Peltier & More

    In thermoelectric series, lead is arranged in the middle and other metals arranged both on the left and right hand side of lead. Lead does not exhibit Thomson effect. If you take a metal on the left of lead and another metal on its right, the thermo electric current flows according to certain...
  17. Z

    How can I power a Peltier Thermoelectric Cooler

    Hi I recently purchased a small (15mmx15mm) Peltier Thermoelectric Cooler/Heater. I am using this for a prototype of mine but I can't find a way to power it. The specs are 1Amp 0.8Volts. I was just wondering if anyone knew where to find a power supply (DC) to power it. I could also use...
  18. E

    Thermoelectric Emf: Investigating Temperature Dependency

    Why the thermoelectric emf doesn't depend on the lower temperature of the thermocouples... And why does the emf start to decrease after a certain increase of temperature?
  19. A

    Thermoelectric generators size

    it's a simple question: is there any limitation to the size of an thermoelectric generator module? is there any minimum thickness? thank you in advance
  20. N

    Can a thermoelectric cooler be used as a thermoelectric generator?

    The title should be self explanatory, the only reason I ask this is because thermoelectric coolers are ridiculously cheap compared to a thermoelectric generator. Is there anything I need to check when using a cooler as a generator, I am expecting temperatures on the cold to be around 20C and...
  21. D

    What are some Thermoelectric experiments?

    Ok. So I am currently doing a term on thermoelctrical physics and was told to perform an extended experimental investigation on this topic. The teacher has given me some examples but none seem to jump out to me. I was wondering in\f anyone has a few topics which are relatively advanced for a...
  22. S

    How thermoelectric cooling works?

    I`ve read that in thermoelectric cooling the current passes through a two different materials and because electrons start to slow down and radiate heat cooling is acheived. But why not to use in this case a usual resistance instead of expensive metals? For example we will place coper wire...
  23. W

    Electrical DIY - Thermoelectric Peltier Seebeck Thermocouple?

    I'm trying to build a DIY working model of TEG/TEC generator similar to the exhaust pipe designs that recover energy from extremely hot exhaust pipe or light those antique candle powered radios. I have 400 (1 inch) pieces of copper wire and 400 (1 inch) pieces of paper clip steel wire. I will...
  24. K

    Thermoelectric Effect in Peltier's Effect: Why Not Joule's Heating?

    in peliter's effect heat is evolved in a junction of thermocouple by virtue of electric current. But why can't we consider it as a joule's heating effect?
  25. P

    Thermoelectric Effect: Powering a House?

    What type of temperature difference do you think you need to to power a typical house using the thermoelectric effect? Suppose you could obtain a constant huge temperature difference, is there any other issues with powering a house this way?
  26. D

    P-n junction in a thermoelectric device

    Greetings, I've just learned some of the basics about thermoelectrics, and I often come across a diagram that confuses me (see the third and fourth figures in the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_effect#Charge-carrier_diffusion"). All of the literature I've read refers to the top...
  27. P

    Where can I purchase a thermoelectric generator?

    I am not an electrical engineer and my understanding of electric circuits is very limited but I was needing to power a 4.5 volt accelerometer by use of a thermoelectric generator. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I can pick one up?
  28. S

    Strained PbTe Shows Strong Thermoelectric Properties

    Apparently, strained nanocrystals of PbTe are able to achieve a high thermoelectric figure of merit, for improved thermoelectric conversion efficiency: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-01/nu-bic011811.php http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v3/n2/abs/nchem.955.html So if...
  29. S

    Thermoelectric Effect in Polarized Conductors

    Hi All, I was just reading about the Thermoelectric Effect, and had a question: In this phenomenon, when there is a temperature difference on each side of a conductor with a finite resistance, a voltage develops (due to diffusion of electrons). Similarly, when a voltage is applied across a...
  30. Spinnor

    Does the Thermoelectric effect apply in sun?

    Reading about the Thermocouple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermocouple I came upon: "... Principle of operation Main article: Seebeck effect In 1821, the German–Estonian physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck discovered that when any conductor is subjected to a thermal gradient, it...
  31. K

    Can Zn4Sb3 Be Used as an N-Type Material in a Thermoelectric Refrigerator?

    hi everyone I am doing a project on thermoelectric Refrigerator and from my research i found out about a p-type material known as Zn4Sb3 which has a high figure of merit however, as far as i know to make a thermoelectric module, it has to be combined with an n-tpye material. is it that any...
  32. M

    Can Adding More Junctions Increase Thermoelectricity Production?

    Just a quick question: It is the seebeck effect whereby a directly proportional voltage to the temperature dif is produced. I am wondering whether adding more junctions in that style would produce more electricity. Would this... http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/3140/54089643.jpg...
  33. M

    Caframo ecofan thermoelectric device

    I have an ecofan that sits on top of my woodstove. It is powered by the thermo reaction between 2 metals, thus exciting electrons which then power the fan. Great device for moving air around the cabin. Living off the grid in rural Alaska, I'm in search of a larger device that could produce 12...
  34. L

    About thermoelectric generation

    Hi all, i was trying to use a thermoelectric board to generate electricity from a presistently hot surface. I wonder if there are any effective ways to boost the power generated? I tried to use a heat sink on the cool side of the board to maintain the temperature difference, but the effect is...
  35. B

    Radioisotope thermoelectric generator

    as part of an engineering project I am doing i have to briefly discuss RTGs and i would like a reference other than wikipedia to put in my bibliography. can anyone direct me to a good book or journal article which describes the design, function etc? thanks a lot
  36. J

    Thermoelectric Cooling: Does anyone know how this works?

    At my company, we have a design using thermoelectric cooling. I have no idea how they work, is there some phenomenon i don't know about?
  37. E

    Quantum Tunneling Thermoelectric Patents?

    Dear Folks: After seeing this Nano-tech forum... Nanalyze Forums - Direct conversion of heat to electricity http://www.nanalyze.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1006੾ I sent a post to Rodney Cox president of Borealis http://www.powerchips.gi/ (I also asked him about Boeing's patent, and he...
  38. E

    Quantum Tunneling Thermoelectric Patents

    Dear Folks: After seeing this Nano-tech forum... Nanalyze Forums - Direct conversion of heat to electricity http://www.nanalyze.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1006&#2686 I sent a post to Rodney Cox president of Borealis http://www.powerchips.gi/ (I also asked him about Boeing's...
  39. S

    Measuring the thermoelectric effect of a simple metal

    By using the following formulation of the thermoelectric effect: \mathbf{j} = \mathbf{\L}_{11}\mathbf{\xi} + \mathbf{\L}_{12}(-\mathbf{\nabla}T) \mathbf{j} = \mathbf{\L}_{21}\mathbf{\xi} + \mathbf{\L}_{22}(-\mathbf{\nabla}T) where \mathbf{\L}_{ij} are tensors that charaterizes a given...
  40. Z

    What are some common thermoelectric materials and their properties?

    I wanted to do an experiment that had to deal with thermoeletric materials, and the out but of electricity. Does anyone know of a common thermoelectric material? Maybe somthing around the house? If not then just name off what you know. I want to see the output of electricity compared to the...