Lightweight Flexible Thermoelectric Power Generator for Military

Jaeyun Moon
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Keywords: thermoelectric devices, 3D printing, composites, flexibility, power generation

Thermoelectric (TE) conversion, which enables the direct generation between electricity and heat, is a simple and environmentally friendly energy conversion technology for waste heat recovery and solid-state heating/cooling applications. In particular, flexible TE devices with high performance are attractive for various military applications. For instance, lightweight TE devices on flexible substrates can be used for powering portable electronics so that the burden of batteries and power generators can be reduced. Wearable cooling devices for soldiers utilizing TE technology will be significantly beneficial for their comfortable working environment and saving energy. Here, we present (1) new approach to synthesize TE material inks, necessary building blocks of flexible TE devices and (2) 3D printing technology to fabricate those devices and (3) the demonstration of 3D-printed thermoelectric modules on a variety of flexible substrates. From efficiency perspective, the hybrid thermoelectric materials consisting of inorganic materials, organic materials and CNTs were rationally designed, fabricated and evaluated on TE properties/mechanical properties. From manufacturing perspective, the direct writing, a type of 3D printing technique, was employed to fabricate the lightweight TE devices on different flexible substrates. The assessment of power generation will be carried out and the associated results will be presented.