Eur. Phys. J. Appl. Phys.
Volume 52, Number 1, October 2010
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Physics of Energy Generation Transfer, Conversion and Storage|
|Published online||17 September 2010|
Thermoelectric generator placed on the human body: system modeling and energy conversion improvements
SATIE, ENS Cachan Bretagne, CNRS, UEB, Avenue Robert Schuman, Campus de Ker Lann, 35170 Bruz, France
2 CRISMAT-CNRT ENSICAEN, 6 boulevard Maréchal Juin, 14050 Caen, France
Corresponding author: email@example.com
Revised: 24 June 2010
Accepted: 28 June 2010
Published online: 17 September 2010
This paper focuses on the production of electricity using a thermoelectric generator placed on the human body connected to a dc-dc converter. The small difference in temperature between the hot heat source (e.g. the human body, Tb = 37 °C) and the cold heat source (e.g. ambient air, Ta = 22 °C), associated with a poor quality thermal coupling (mainly with the cold source), leads to a very low temperature gradient at the thermoelectric generator terminals and hence low productivity. Under these use conditions, the present article proposes an analysis of various ways to improve productivity given a surface capture system. Furthermore, we demonstrated, in this particular context, that maximizing the recovered electric power proves to be a different problem from that of maximizing efficiency, e.g. the figure of merit Z. We therefore define a new factor ZE, depending on the physical characteristics of thermoelectric materials, that maximizes electric power in the particular case where the thermal coupling is poor. Finally, this study highlights the benefit of sub-optimization of the power extracted from the thermoelectric generator to further improve efficiency of the overall system. We show that, given the conversion efficiency of the dc-dc converter, the maximum power point of the overall system is no more reached when the output voltage of the thermoelectric generator is equal to half of its electromotive force.
© EDP Sciences, 2010
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