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Cost Scaling of a Real-World Exhaust Waste Heat Recovery Thermoelectric Generator: A Deeper DiveCost is equally important to power density or efficiency for the adoption of waste heat recovery thermoelectric generators (TEG) in many transportation and industrial energy recovery applications. In many cases the system design that minimizes cost (e.g., the $/W value) can be very different than the design that maximizes the system's efficiency or power density, and it is important to understand the relationship between those designs to optimize TEG performance-cost compromises. Expanding on recent cost analysis work and using more detailed system modeling, an enhanced cost scaling analysis of a waste heat recovery thermoelectric generator with more detailed, coupled treatment of the heat exchangers has been performed. In this analysis, the effect of the heat lost to the environment and updated relationships between the hot-side and cold-side conductances that maximize power output are considered. This coupled thermal and thermoelectric treatment of the exhaust waste heat recovery thermoelectric generator yields modified cost scaling and design optimization equations, which are now strongly dependent on the heat leakage fraction, exhaust mass flow rate, and heat exchanger effectiveness. This work shows that heat exchanger costs most often dominate the overall TE system costs, that it is extremely difficult to escape this regime, and in order to achieve TE system costs of $1/W it is necessary to achieve heat exchanger costs of $1/(W/K). Minimum TE system costs per watt generally coincide with maximum power points, but Preferred TE Design Regimes are identified where there is little cost penalty for moving into regions of higher efficiency and slightly lower power outputs. These regimes are closely tied to previously-identified low cost design regimes. This work shows that the optimum fill factor Fopt minimizing system costs decreases as heat losses increase, and increases as exhaust mass flow rate and heat exchanger effectiveness increase. These findings have profound implications on the design and operation of various thermoelectric (TE) waste heat 3 recovery systems. This work highlights the importance of heat exchanger costs on the overall TEG system costs, quantifies the possible TEG performance-cost domain space based on heat exchanger effects, and provides a focus for future system research and development efforts.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Hendricks, Terry J. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Yee, Shannon (Georgia Inst. of Tech. Atlanta, GA, United States)
LeBlanc, Saniya (George Washington Univ. Washington, DC, United States)
Date Acquired
August 1, 2017
Publication Date
June 28, 2015
Subject Category
Energy Production and Conversion
Meeting Information
European Conference on Thermoelectrics (ECT)(Dresden)
Distribution Limits
cost analysis
thermoelectric systems
energy recovery