Can a thermoelectric cooler be used as a thermoelectric generator?

In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of using a thermoelectric cooler as a generator. The speaker questions if there are any precautions to take when using a cooler as a generator, specifically in regards to high temperatures. Another speaker mentions that the energy conversion in thermoelectric coolers is irreversible, making them inefficient. However, they suggest trying it out to see if it is possible to make it work. The conversation also mentions the thermocouple effect and the limitations of using a thermoelectric cooler as a generator. The conversation concludes with a mention of various websites selling thermoelectric generators and their practicality.
  • #1
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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 hot around 200C. Would high temperatures damage the coolers even though are rated high enough?
 
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  • #2
I am afraid the energy conversion is irreversible in the thermoelectric cooler. It is like as one cannot generate electricity by cooling a freon refrigerator.
 
  • #3
i believe it is reversible
but inefficient

get one and give it a try.

the thermocouple effect works both ways

but any fans or active electronics will have to be dealt with separately.
 
  • #4
Thermoelectric cooler is inefficient by itself. If a reverted action is possible, according to logics, the inefficient thermoel. cooler could be turned into an efficient electricity generator ?!
 
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  • #5
...efficient electricity generator ?!

a not very efficient one i would think.

It'd be of course limited by Carnot efficiency, difference between hot and cold sources.

A google search on 'thermo electric generator efficiency' took me to several outfits selling them. They're more practical than i thought.



http://www.tegpower.com/
electrochem.org
 

1. Can a thermoelectric cooler actually generate electricity?

Yes, a thermoelectric cooler can be used as a thermoelectric generator to generate electricity. The process, known as the Seebeck effect, involves converting temperature differences into an electric voltage. This means that when one side of the thermoelectric cooler is heated and the other is cooled, electricity is produced.

2. How efficient is a thermoelectric cooler as a thermoelectric generator?

The efficiency of a thermoelectric cooler as a thermoelectric generator depends on various factors such as the materials used, the temperature difference, and the design of the device. Generally, the efficiency ranges from 5-8%, which is lower compared to other types of generators. However, ongoing research and advancements in technology aim to improve this efficiency.

3. What are the advantages of using a thermoelectric cooler as a thermoelectric generator?

One of the main advantages of using a thermoelectric cooler as a thermoelectric generator is its simplicity and compactness. It does not have any moving parts, making it low maintenance and reliable. Additionally, it can operate in both high and low-temperature environments, making it suitable for various applications.

4. Can a thermoelectric cooler be used as a standalone power source?

As a thermoelectric cooler has a low efficiency, it is not suitable to be used as a standalone power source for large-scale energy needs. However, it can be used to power small electronic devices such as sensors, portable chargers, and even small appliances in remote areas where electricity is not readily available.

5. How does the size of a thermoelectric cooler affect its performance as a generator?

The size of a thermoelectric cooler does affect its performance as a generator. A larger device can generate more electricity compared to a smaller one. However, it is essential to balance the size and efficiency of the thermoelectric cooler to achieve the desired power output. Increasing the size may also lead to increased costs and complexity in the design and production process.

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