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Thermoambient Energy Project - Conversion of ambient heat into electrical energy

The Seebeck effect and thermoelectric power generation

Last updated 06/28/2020

What is thermoelectricity?

The term "thermoelectricity" originally refers to the conversion of thermal energy into electrical energy by means of a physical effect discovered by Thomas Johann Seebeck in 1821. In his honor, this effect was called the Seebeck effect. Currently, thermoelectricity expression is also used to refer to the Peltier effect, Thomson and eventually Joule effect.


Summary on the Seebeck effect.

The Seebeck effect, in essence, refers to the conversion of a heat flux into a flux of electrons. This physical phenomenon is only perceptible when we join the ends of two dissimilar materials (conductors or semiconductors) forming a configuration known as "thermocouple".

To create the heat flux, and observe the phenomenon, it is necessary to apply a temperature difference between the two junctions of the thermocouple. The detected electrical voltage, that is, the resulting electromotive force is directly proportional to the applied temperature difference between the hot junction and the cold junction. In other words, the Seebeck effect transforms thermal energy into electrical energy in a direct way. Its main use is in the area of electro-electronic instrumentation for temperature measurement.

Currently, Seebeck thermocouples are also being used in thermoelectric modules called TEG (Thermoelectric Generator). TEGs aim to transform heat directly into electricity, especially the heat wasted by cars, industries, computers, etc.

In this project (Thermoambient Energy Project), the Sebeeck effect is being used in a technically innovative way. The goal is to convert ambient heat into electricity. The idea is to combat global warming by recycling the thermal energy that we discard daily in the environment.


What is Peltier effect?

The Peltier effect works in a reverse manner to the Seebeck effect. It converts a stream of electrons into a heat flux thus establishing a temperature difference between the two junctions of the thermocouple. In other words, the Peltier effect transforms electric energy into thermal energy, but in a different way than the "Joule effect". (To be more exact, the Peltier effect draws heat from one junction and transports it to the other junction.) The Peltier effect is generally used to remove heat from a point that we want to cool, and transport it to an external location (usually the environment). Application example: mini-refrigerator, refrigerated air, water cooler etc. NOTE: The same thermocouple, used to produce the Peltier effect, can also be used to produce the seebeck effect.

Know the Thermoambient Energy Project and find out what its objective is.

See how the Thermoambient Generator works.

Author: Valvim M Dutra


This text has been translated from Portuguese. If you find some grammatical error or linguistic incoherence, I shall be grateful if you let me know the location of the mistake so that I can correct it.


Let's save the planet from global warming by recycling the thermoambient energy