New Wearable Solar Thermoelectric Generator Created

Friday, December 29, 2017

In a recent study, led by Professor Kyoung Jin Choi of the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), a new advanced energy harvesting system was created that can generate electricity by merely being attached to clothing, windows, or outer walls of a structure. This new device overcomes the current issue of minimal temperature difference between body temperature and surrounding environment temperature as with standard thermoelectric generators (TEGs). By introducing a local solar absorber on a polymide (PI) substrate, the research team was able to remedy the low temperature difference and record a difference of up to 20.9 oC, which is vastly higher than the 1 – 4 oC difference of conventional wearable TEGs. Professor Choi and his team were able to design a wearable solar thermoelectric generator (W-STEG) by integrating flexible BiTe-based legs and sub-micron thick solar absorbers on a PI substrate by process of dispenser printing an ink composed of BiTe-based powders and Sb2Te3-based sintering additives dispersed in glycerol. Dr. Choi believes that this new W-STEG will serve as a catalyst to further improve the future of wearable electronic technology market.

With the micro-sized components of W-STEGs, applications in the construction industry could be feasible. Could safety vests and other PPE’s be lined with an enhanced PI substrate to generate power to charge handheld devices on-site? Could the W-STEG fabric be included as a component of exterior cladding and serve as a green component to charge and operate building electronics?

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