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Can a thermoelectric cooler be used as a thermoelectric generator?

  1. May 8, 2012 #1
    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2012 #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.
  4. May 9, 2012 #3

    jim hardy

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    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.
  5. May 9, 2012 #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 ?!
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  6. May 9, 2012 #5

    jim hardy

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    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.

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