Thermoelectric devices convert thermal energy into electrical energy. Excess heat such as heat created by a combustion engine or waste heat of power plants could thus be converted into electricity. A fully thermoelectric power plant might use energy harvested from ocean waves to pump cold water up through a heat exchanger/generator near the surface. The heat exchanger is made of thermoelectric materials which can use the temperature gradient between the warm and cold water to generate electricity. The application of thermoelectric generators, however, has been mostly restricted to niche applications such as space crafts because of the inefficiency of known thermoelectric materials. The challenge for the scientist is the discovery and design of more efficient thermoelectric materials.
- Thermoelectric nanoparticles and hybrid materials
- Thermoelectric superlattice and pseudo-superlattice materials