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James Salvador1

1, General Motors Research and Development, Warren, Michigan, United States

Over the last 4 years GM has led a development effort in collaboration with Delphi Electrical and Safety, Dana Thermal, Eberspaecher NA, Marlow Industries, The University of Michigan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, The University of Washington, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Purdue University and Molycorp to advance thermoelectric generator technology for passenger vehicle applications. In this talk we will highlight the attributes and challenges associated with this new, highly integrated generator design. We will discuss the materials, fabrication and assembly operations developed to achieve a compact, lightweight and low cost system suitable for the automotive industry. The integrated generator design eliminates the use of standalone modules or cartridges in favor of directly integrating the hot side dielectric and metallization as printable coatings that are directly applied to the hot side heat exchanger surface. This eliminates the need for large clamping forces to encourage good thermal contact between the modules and the heat source and greatly decreases the both the hot and cold side heat exchangers’ volume and mass through the elimination of scar weight attributable to structural reinforcement. Oxidation protection and light compression are achieved by hermitic sealing and a partial pressure of inert cover gas. We will also present the thermoelectric materials formulation, processing and transport property evaluation, the system level performance when integrated into a production vehicle and discuss the fuel economy improvements achievable. This work was made possible through generous support from the US Department of Energy’s office of vehicle technology, EERE and NETL.

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