Most of the energy we consume ends up as waste heat. Converting waste heat back into valuable electricity remains a formidable scientific and technological challenge in particular under economic constraints. At Empa, we develop thermoelectric materials and modules that enable the direct conversion of heat flux into electric power.

Potential of thermoelectrics for waste heat recovery (TEpot)

Funding: Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE

Partners: Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz,  Wolfgang Neumann Consult AG

Thermoelectrics has so far been deployed only for niche applications. This study mandated by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy reassesses the technical and economic potential of thermoelectric energy conversion. The potential of industrial waste heat is huge, its recovery of high interest to industry, but currently economically unviable. More promising are the prospects at waste incineration plants, in the building sector, and in off-grid applications, e.g. in vehicles. More information about the project can be found here. The full report is available here.

Integration of high temperature thermoelectric converter for electricity generation in a solid oxide fuel cell system (HITTEC)

Funding: Competence Center Energy and Mobility, Swiss Federal Office of Energy

Partners: ETHZ, EPFL, ZHAW, Hexis

The aim of this project is to develop oxide-based high-temperature thermoelectrics for the integration into solid oxide fuel cells. Understanding the fundamental materials properties of both n-type and p-type semiconducting oxides is key to deliver competitive performance. Thermoelectric oxide materials developed at Empa are tested in a solid oxide fuel cell developed by industry partner Hexis. More information can be found here. The full report is available here.