IIT-Mandi developing technology that convert heat into electricity

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Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi researcher in Himachal Pradesh are developing thermoelectric material that can convert heat energy into electricity energy.

A researcher team led by Ajay soni, Associate Professor (Physics) with School of Basic Science, IIT-Mandi, is studying materials that can convert heat into electricity.

The team has been engaged in research on thermoelectric materials and has published many research papers in reputed peer-review international journals, including Applied Physics Letters, Physical Review B and Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

While solar power has received a lot of attention in the previous year, other alternative sources, even if less known, are also equally beneficial.

Generating power from heat is attractive and necessary too as there is a lot of energy that is being generated through human activity in industries like power plants, home appliances and automobiles, where most of this heat is lost and wasted instead it can be used to make electricity.

“Thermoelectric materials work on the principle of Seebeck effect, in which electricity is generated due to temperature differences across the junction of two materials,” Mr Soni said.

A typical thermoelectric material convert heat energy to electrical energy based on Seebeck and Peltier effect and must have the properties of high thermoelectric power and electrical conductivity, and low thermal conductivity with a capability of maintaining a temperature gradient.

This combination of properties, Mr Soni said, is hard to come by and a few semiconducting materials must be tweaked further for good thermoelectric efficiency.

In other Western countries also many automobile companies including Volkswagen, Volvo, Ford and BMW are developing thermoelectric waste heat recovery systems that promise to give three to five per cent improvement in fuel economy.

Near About 70 per cent of energy is wasted globally as heat and this heat is released into the environment and become one of the major factor for global warming. So, this innovation by IIT-Mandi team will help the environment a lot.

The trapping and conversion of waste heat into electricity by thermoelectric material can serve the dual purpose of energy self-sufficiency and environmental preservation.

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