Questions about creating electricity from a Peltier Tile

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RoboticsCoach
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Questions about creating electricity from a Peltier Tile

Post by RoboticsCoach »

Hi,

We are a team apart of a Robotics Competition and we are called STEM Cells Y.
Our target was to come up with a problem and solution regarding energy.

Our problem is in relation to creating electricity that was not connected any power lines or solar - typically seen in camping or power outage situations. Free and purposeful.

Can we use Peltier Tile modules to create electricity?

Our design: We cool one side of the Peltier tile with some heavy duty heat sinks attached together with thermal paste. We heat the other side by placing (a removeable) aluminum cake tin that holds boiling water. We are not sure how much voltage this alone will generate but we are also planning to attach a Voltage Booster to increase the output voltage. We want to be able to power a emergency phone, a light bulb or fan.

Do you have any advise in terms of materials, design, purpose or even other experts you can share with us?

Kind Regards,
Students from STEM Cells Y.
bfinio
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Re: Questions about creating electricity from a Peltier Tile

Post by bfinio »

Hi,

I'm a robotics engineer - I am not that familiar with Peltier tiles specifically, but did a quick search. A lot of what comes up is about using powered Peltier tiles for cooling, as opposed to running them in reverse and using them as generators, but I think that should give you a ballpark idea about the amount of power you can generate. For example, here's a 12 volt, 5 amp unit from Adafruit:

https://www.adafruit.com/product/1330

which claims it can generate a maximum temperature differential of 66 deg C. So in theory, if it worked at 100% efficiency as a generator, you could generate 60 watts (power = voltage x current, so 12 volts x 5 amps = 60 watts) if you could apply that temperature difference. However, it looks like the efficiency when used as a generator is very low - only about 5-8% according to this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoele ... Efficiency. That means you would only get a few watts. That's consistent with the specs listed on this page: https://scienceimproved.com/how-to-gene ... efficiency for a similarly-sized tile, which lists a few volts and and a few hundred milliamps depending on the temperature difference.

So, you are not going to be able to power things that would run off mains electricity (like a light bulb or a fan that plugs into a wall outlet) - also because those devices operate on alternating current (AC), not the direct current (DC) generated by these tiles. But you could probably power or charge a small battery-operated device.

Also, note that the total *power* output of the tile cannot be increased. A voltage booster will increase the voltage but decrease the current. You could also put multiple tiles in series to get more voltage, and/or multiple tiles in parallel to get more current, just like you can with batteries. What exactly you need would depend on the device you want to power.

Hope that helps get you started. If you haven't seen our multimeter tutorial, this may be useful in helping you measure the output: https://youtu.be/ts0EVc9vXcs

Write back if you have any more questions!

Ben
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