Development of a High Efficient Thermoelectric Stack for a Waste Exhaust Heat Recovery of Vehicles
Applications of a thermoelectric generator to vehicles have been recently renewed according to the desire of fuel saving and environmental issues, primarily due to advantages for a waste exhaust heat recovery. In the last couple of years, we have intensified a broad research to develop a high efficiency thermoelectric stack, which is an united system of thermoelectric modules and a heat exchanger. The developments of advanced thermoelectric materials and devices are the key to improving the practicability. The thermoelectric materials under investigation are mainly filled skutterudites RM4Sb12 (R=Yb, Ce; M=Co, Fe, Ni). In order to maximize the conversion efficiency of the devices operating in the 350 -800K temperature range of exhaust heat gas, the p-, n-legs segmented with these skutterudites and state-of-the-art Bi2Te3 have been used to build up the devices. We could obtain valuable data showing a validity of installing the thermoelectric stack in vehicles, but much problems still remain to be solved in a practical level.