Thermo-Electric Power Generators (TEPGs)
The advancement of green technology for achieving sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources for both terrestrial and space applications is currently a hot research topic.
Brimrose Technology has successfully developed a novel thermoelectric based power generator using lead chalcogenide based alloys and emerging nano-structure techniques in partnership with military DoD labs and industries. Thermoelectrics are made of semiconductor materials that are configured to take advantage of temperature differences between p and n junctions to generate electricity. Also, we have successfully assembled the material into TE devices and optimized the high temperature electrical contacts for minimal resistivity. We established the feasibility that kilowatt levels of power can be produced in an environmentally clean (pollution free) manner using TEPG. The picture above shows three undoped boules of PbTe. For more info, please contact us
n- and p-type PbTe and Bulk Nano-composites
We have successfully produced single crystalline doped PbTe. We also, for the first time ever, successfully produced n- and p-type PbTe nanopowders and bulk nano-composites using the emerging field assisted-spark plasma sintering technology (FAST) technique, developed by Penn State University. The quality of the nano-composite material was much better than what we had previously achieved using a simple press and sinter technique. This growth process dramatically improved the machinability of the material which makes it much easier to fabricate the pieces needed for the TEPG device modules. We have also successfully produced single crystal bismuth telluride (Bi-Sb)2(Se-Te)3 which is more suitable for lower temperature TEPG operation compared to PbTe. The picture on the left shows nanocomposite material of Bismuth doped lead telluride.
TEPG Quad Devices
In addition to our work in material development, we also focused efforts on device fabrication. Using the single crystal doped PbTe crystals that we grew in the TEPG research effort, we fabricated several TEPG devices. Several single modules along with 2x2 quad devices were made. All of these devices were characterized and we achieved near theoretical limits on the performance of these devices.
Significant Advantages to TEPGs Include:
- No Moving Parts (hence the operation is vibration and noice free)
- Compact and Light Weight
- High Power Density
- Low Amortized Cost
- Free of Maintenance and Highly Reliable
Some NASA and Non-NASA Applications:
NASA is interested in advancing green technology research for achieving sustainable and environmental friendly energy sources for terrestrial and space applications.
- Power Generation and Cooling Applications
- Radio-isotope Thermal Generators - for deep space satellites
- Remote Power Generation - for unmanned systems
- Niche Terrestrial Applications
- Calibration and Validation Sources - for future airborne and space-borne missions
- Recovery of Waste Heat - for alternatives to fossil fuels
- Building Self-powered Water and Space Heating Systems
TEPG has rich potential for broad commercial and military.
- Retrieving the waste heat emitted from automobiles, factories or other similar sources
- Promoting the practice of green building
- Battery recharging - for mounted/ dismounted soldier power
- Powering military kitchen appliances
There have even been recent reports of TE power sources that can generate power from the small temperature gradients that are available throughout the human body. Power can be generated from breathing, body heat, blood transport, arm motion, typing, and walking. This power could be sufficient to charge the cell phones or power the sensors on astronauts to monitor body functions.