Scalable Fabrication of Thermoelectric Generators by Combining Spray-Coating and Laser Structuring
Thermoelectric energy conversion has become an important topic in energy research for utilization of wasted heat. Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are capable of direct energy conversion of thermal energy into electrical energy consistently and without moving parts. For thermoelectric components, a wide range of materials is investigated covering polymers, tellurides and selenides, oxides and intermetallic phases. Additionally, next to optimizing material’s properties, there is an increasing interest in alternative additive and subtractive scalable manufacturing methods for easy and less costly device fabrication.
A scalable manufacturing process for TEGs, which consists of spray-coating of the thermoelectric materials and subsequent laser structuring to control the resulting design, is presented. With this combination of additive and subtractive manufacturing, the resulting layer thickness as well as the structuring and the final design of the layers can be precisely controlled. The presented process is capable of fast fabrication of TEGs and on a large scale. A prototype device with ceramic Ca3Co4O9 (front side) and Ag (back side) as thermoelectric materials was prepared and characterized. Here, a subsequent sintering step ensures the thermoelectric properties of the porous ceramic layers and leads to a rigid TEG. Due to the use of ceramic and/or metallic components, the prototype exhibits a high thermal stability up to 900 K. The universal fabrication method can be further extended to different kinds of thermoelectric materials and generator designs.
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