■ FIGURE 9.
■ FIGURE 11.
■ FIGURE 10.
The Future of Thermoelectric
Volkswagen and BMW have manufactured a line of
thermoelectric generators that are powered by the waste heat
of their car’s internal combustion engine. By doing so, they
can use a smaller alternator on the engine for its electrical
power needs. This contributes to the car’s improved efficiency
by reducing the work required by the engine.
■ FIGURE 12.
Pre-Summer Tests Results
This May wasn’t a particular sunny or hot month in
New York City. I did have a few 80 degree plus days to
bring the sunflower out for some preliminary real world
testing, however. I used a cooking pan filled with ice and
water to be sure it stayed cool enough out in the ambient
temperature (Figure 10).
I placed the sunflower’s heatsink into this pan and left
it in the sun for 15 minutes before I began taking some
power output measurements from the TEG module (see
The voltage output at 15 minutes was approximately
0.8 volts (Figure 12). At the half hour mark, I checked the
current output and it was an impressive 160 mA — far
more current than I had expected.
The sunflower has not been completely optimized. To
further develop this project, I would do heat studies
relating to the thickness of the aluminum material. The
current sheet size may be large enough to handle two or
three (possible four) TEG modules at a time. A little
thought and ingenuity can make this even more
impressive. I’d love to have several of these floating in my
pool for a great evening ambience. NV
August 2010 31