TEGs or Thermoelectric Generators are machines that are capable of transforming heat into electrical energy without the need for moving parts like turbines to function. As heat transfers from a gas burner through a thermoelectric component usually present in these types of generators, the heat triggers a current to flow.
One thing that sets apart thermoelectric generators made by Global Power Technologies is the fact that the company’s generators are made with a component called a thermopile. A thermopile is a hermetically-sealed thermoelectric module containing a ternary alloy of lead, tin, and tellurium (lead-tin-telluride) semiconductor elements. This robust component provides a chemically stable environment for the thermoelectric constituents ensuring a long service life.
Let’s learn a bit more about what thermoelectric generators are and what are the advantages of acquiring one directly from Global Power Technologies.
What is a TEG?
A TEG is a device that utilizes one or more thermoelectric modules and uses those as primary components along with a determined cooling system. The cooling system may be constituted by passive air, active air, or hydronic. These basic components are then put together in order to form what is called a thermoelectric generator.
Going one step further, a TEG system is able to incorporate various parts of the hardware into a TEG such as water pumps, electronics, and various kinds of the firmware. This particular system helps prioritize power while keeping the system cool and functional. A good example of a TEG system is the TEGpro 100W TEG Water-Cooled System which will cycle water from a baseboard hot-water heating system through a water-cooled TEG.
Advantages of Using a Global Power Technologies TEG
Global Power Technologies is the largest manufacturer of the TEG thermoelectric generator, which provides an output ranging from 5 to 550 watts. These generators are ideal for supplying off-grid power to remote applications in environmentally challenging locations requiring up to 5,000 watts.
The Global Power Technologies thermoelectric generators have no moving parts, making them ideal for any long-term unattended operations at remote locations. The TEGs are a reliable, low-maintenance source of DC electrical power for any application where regular utilities are unavailable or unreliable. The company manufactures many models to meet any condition, including hazardous areas and conditions.
The following are various advantages that customers can experience when investing in a Global Power Technologies thermoelectric generator:
- Highly Reliable – The solid-state design (no moving parts) ensures trouble-free operation and a consistently reliable power supply system.
- Low Maintenance – Recommended 1 to 2 hours per year for pro-active maintenance.
- Competitively Priced – Competitive capital and operating costs and lower cost of ownership versus Photovoltaic PV/Solar
- Long Life – A single sealed thermopile has a 20-year design life with 0.2% degradation each year, while the generator field experience is over 20 years.
- Continuous Operation In All Conditions – The operation is not affected by weather, dust, or other airborne contaminants.
- Smooth Operation – Single burner with a 20-year design life is easy to operate and stable in all-weather situations.
- Reduced System Size – The environmentally favorable physical layout of Global Power Technologies generator systems is generally smaller than solar or other generator options.
- Increased Security – Global Power Technologies TEG installations are typically low visibility and can be mounted inside security shelters if needed.
- Reduced Battery Requirements – Due to the continuous operation
- Extended Battery Life – Due to reduced deep cycling
- Quality – Produced to ISO 9001 requirements
- No Greenhouse Gases – Thermoelectric generators do not require any greenhouse gases to operate. Some energy conversion technologies do.
- Wide Range of Fuel Sources – Thermoelectric generators do not have restrictions on fuels that can be used to generate the needed heat. Many other energy conversion technologies do.
- Scalability – Thermoelectric generators can be designed to output power levels smaller than microwatts and larger than kilowatts.
- Mountable in Any Orientation – Thermoelectric generators operate in any orientation. Some energy conversion technologies are sensitive to their orientation relative to gravity.
- Operation Under high and Zero G-forces – Thermoelectric generators can operate under zero-G or high-G conditions. Some other energy conversion technologies cannot.
- Direct Energy Conversion – Thermoelectric generators convert heat directly into electricity. Many energy conversion technologies require intermediate steps when converting heat to electricity. For example, heat energy from fuel is converted in a turbine to mechanical energy, then mechanical energy is converted to electricity in a generator. Each energy conversion step adds losses in the form of waste heat. This makes thermoelectric generators less mechanically complex than some other energy conversion technologies.
- Compact Size – Thermoelectric generators can be designed to be very compact. This leads to greater design flexibility.
Global Power Technologies thermoelectric generators are reliable and require minimal training and maintenance. The units are easy to operate, competitively priced, and have a long life. The TEGs maintain continuous operation and are unaffected by weather or airborne contaminants. The Global Power Technologies thermoelectric generators require a smaller footprint than solar systems or other generator options, and since they are low visibility, they can be installed in security shelters. They have reduced battery requirements and extended battery life, given that they maintain continuous operation and have decreased deep cycling.
How a TEG Works
TEGs transform heat directly into electrical energy without the need for moving parts, such as turbines. As heat transfers from a gas burner through a thermoelectric component, it triggers an electrical current to flow.
At the crux of the Global Power Technologies’ TEG generator is a thermopile, a hermetically-sealed thermoelectric module containing a ternary alloy of lead, tin, and tellurium (lead-tin-telluride) semiconductor elements. This robust component provides a chemically stable environment for the thermoelectric constituents ensuring a long service life.
TEGS benefits from a temperature gradient between the two sides of the generator. This phenomenon where a temperature difference can create a voltage is known as the “thermoelectric effect.”
A gas burner is installed on one side of the thermopile, while on the opposite side, aluminum cooling fins or a heat pipe assembly provide cooling. While operating, the TEG sustains about 540°C on the burner side and 140°C on the cooling side. The heat flowing through the thermopile generates steady DC electricity, and there are no moving parts.
The science (Seebeck effect) behind Thermoelectric Generation is often referred to as, a phenomenon. We think TEGs are extraordinary and impressive for sure! They can also sometimes be confusing to understand and difficult to use. That’s why we put together this quick guide, to explain how TEGs convert heat to energy, what parts and components they’re made from, and how you can easily use one for practical alternative energy solutions. Whether you’re off-grid, live in a remote area, or cold environment, there is probably an application for you where a TEG could be used to convert waste heat to electricity.
The basic building block of a thermoelectric generator is a thermocouple. A thermocouple is made up of one p-type semiconductor and one n-type semiconductor. The semiconductors are connected by a metal strip that connects them electrically in series. The semiconductors are also known as thermoelements, dice, or pellets.
The Seebeck effect is a direct energy conversion of heat into a voltage potential. The Seebeck effect occurs due to the movement of charge carriers within the semiconductors. In doped n-type semiconductors, charge carriers are electrons and in doped p-type semiconductors, charge carriers are holes. Charge carriers diffuse away from the hot side of the semiconductor. This diffusion leads to a buildup of charge carriers at one end. This buildup of charge creates a voltage potential that is directly proportional to the temperature difference across the semiconductor.