EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON THE EFFECTS OF A DYNAMIC LOAD RESISTANCE ON THE THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY OF THERMOELECTRIC MODULES
Waste-heat is a necessary by-product of many mechanical, chemical and electrical processes. This thermal residue is often a production capacity limiting factor and represents an abundant non exploited source of energy. Commercially available thermoelectric modules may be used to harness the otherwise lost energy into its more noble form: electricity. This technology exploits the Seebeck effect which is an electromotive force generated across doped semiconductor modules initiated by a temperature gradient. Ideally, the heat source and the electrical needs are part of one cyclic process thereby reducing total energy consumption and maximizing the cost effectiveness of the technology. An example of this would be a hybrid vehicle with a conventional engine producing waste-heat while also requiring electricity for its internal electric engine. Such processes are often dynamic in nature with varying power output needs. In this study, the effect of a dynamic load resistance on the thermal conductivity of a thermoelectric module is investigated. Furthering knowledge in this field will permit a tracking system to vary the load resistance according to electric power output needs. In particular, adjusting the thermal conductivity of thermoelectric modules by varying the load resistance is an effective means of increasing or decreasing the temperature gradient across the modules thereby increasing or decreasing power output for the given requirements.