Thermoelectrics and Thermal Management Team

CO2-free electricity
Thermoelectrics: Power Generation from Waste Heat and Thermal Management

We develop thermoelectric materials and thermoelectric energy conversion technologies that convert waste heat directly into useful electricity/accurately control temperature using electric current, thereby promoting efficient energy use.

Thermoelectrics and Thermal Management Team

Research themes

  • Achieving high performance in thermoelectric materials and modules, and developing these with earth-abundant and low-toxicity elements
  • Improving the durability of thermoelectric modules, and developing high-accuracy evaluation methods
  • Realizing smart thermal management using thermoelectric conversion technologies (thermoelectric power generation and Peltier cooling)

Concept for social contributions and implementation

Promoting energy conservation and GHG reduction by producing electric power from a variety of heat sources, such as automotive and industrial waste heat, and body heat.

Research Team Leader / Greetings

Leader

OHTA Michihiro

Technologies for optimal heat control still have a way to go compared to electricity. This area is promising from both academic and engineering perspectives. Thermal energy often goes to waste and is released to the environment unused. We are one of the few research teams in the world conducting a wide range of research on thermoelectric energy conversion technologies to produce electricity from this “Mottainai” unused heat. By fully utilizing heat, we will help promote the efficient use of energy.

OHTA Michihiro

Members

Principal Research Manager(Thermoelectrics and Thermal Management Team)

ISHIDA Takao

Principal Research Manager(Thermoelectrics and Thermal Management Team)

YAMAMOTO Atsushi

Senior Researcher

JOOD Priyanka

Member

FUNAHASHI Ryoji

Member

AMAGAI Yasutaka

Member

OKAWA Kenjiro

Member

MIKAMI Masashi

Technical staff

AIHARA Makoto

Technical staff

OKUMURA Ichiro

Technical staff

ZHANG Xiaoxuan

Technical staff

TAKAHASHI Tooru

Technical staff

TANITA Takeo

Technical staff

FUJIMOTO Naoko

Technical staff (temporary staff)

MOTOKI Mihoko

Assistant

HAYASHI Yukiko

Partner Researcher

TSUCHIYA Yoshinori

Contributing to energy conservation and low carbon emissions through the effective heat use

60% of the primary energy supply is disposed without effective utilization in the form of heat (waste heat). Furthermore, improving the efficiency of thermal management is necessary to achieve energy conservation in various devices and processes. Solid-state semiconductor-based thermoelectric modules allow to directly convert waste heat into valuable electricity (thermoelectric power generation) or can be used for highly accurate temperature control using electric current (Peltier cooling). Our team focuses on all aspects of thermoelectric conversion technologies, from cutting-edge materials, modules, power generation demonstrations, and evaluations, in order to promote their widespread use. Advanced manufacturing, analysis, and evaluation facilities are available in our laboratory to promote research and development of thermoelectric technologies.

Figure 1
Realizing energy conservation and efficient thermal management by thermoelectric conversion technologies

Focusing on all aspects of thermoelectrics, from materials, modules, and evaluations

①Improvement in figure of merit of materials using state-of-the-art materials science

Our team focuses on achieving high efficiency in thermoelectric materials through the advanced control of heat and electrical transport and developing new thermoelectric materials made from low resources elements (sulfur, magnesium, etc.) and organic materials.

Figure 2
Nanostructuring and electronic band structure engineering

②Development of module and power generation demonstration

Our team are developing electrode fabrication technology for improving the thermal and electrical contacts between interfaces and investigating the degradation behavior of thermoelectric modules to highly reliable power generation. We are interested in developing thermoelectric systems by integrating related heat technologies (heat transfer, heat radiation, etc.).

Figure 3
Optimization of the element assembly
Figure 4
Developed various thermoelectric modules with high efficiency, high durability, and others for purposes

③Advanced evaluation methods

One important challenge is the development of advanced evaluation technology to support fair thermoelectric market growth. We developed reference module are conducting interlaboratory testing of thermoelectric conversion in international framework.

Figure 5
Interlaboratory testing
Figure 6
Evaluation system for power generation conversion efficiency

④Bridging the technological valley of death for social implementation

We aim to commercialize thermoelectric technologies through a wide range of collaborative efforts with companies in Japan. For example, we have supported the establishment of Mottainai Energy Co., Ltd. (AIST startup company).

Video

Research

Sepehri-Amin, H.; Imasato, K.; Wood, M.; Kuo, J. J.; Snyder, G. J. , Evolution of Nanometer-Scale Microstructure within Grains and in the Intergranular Region in Thermoelectric Mg3(Sb, Bi)2Alloys, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2022, 14, 37958, 10.1021/acsami.2c09905

Published AUG 13 2022

Imasato, K.; Sauerschnig, P.; Anand, S.; Ishida, T.; Yamamoto, A.; Ohta, M., Discovery of Triple Half-Heusler Mg2VNi3Sb3 with Low Thermal Conductivity, J. Mater. Chem. A 2022, 10, 18737, 10.1039/D2TA04593A

Published AUG 08 2022

Seki, K.; Mukaida, M.; Wei, Q.;Ishida, T., Thickness optimization of the output power and effective thermoelectric figure of merit of thin thermoelectric generator, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 2022, 61, 080903, 10.35848/1347-4065/ac7d83

Published JUL 15 2022

Bernges, T.; Hanus, R.; Wankmiller, B.; Imasato, K.; Lin, S.; Ghidiu, M.; Gerlitz, M.; Peterlechner, M.; Graham, S.; Hautier, G.; Pei, Y.; Hansen, M. R.; Wilde, G.; Snyder, G. J.; George, J.; Agne, M. T.; Zeier, W. G. , Considering the Role of Ion Transport in Diffuson-Dominated Thermal Conductivity, Adv. Energy Mater. 2022, 12, 2200717, 10.1002/AENM.202200717

Published APR 27 2022
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