Developing efficient thermoelectric generator systems to recover wasted thermal energy from automotive exhaust gasses has potential to improve engine efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Due to their high thermal transfer efficiency, heat pipes have been used to assist thermoelectric generator systems in these applications. To aid in additional heat transfer, metal fins are often used with heat pipes to take advantage of extended-surface heat transfer. This paper proposes a thermoelectric generator system that employs metal foam as an extended-surface heat transfer aid used in conjunction with heat pipes. Three test conditions were simulated to evaluate the system performance in terms of maximum power output: one with heat pipes with no heat transfer aid, one with heat pipes and aluminum fins as a heat transfer aid, and one with heat pipes and metal foam as a heat transfer aid. The experimental results show that the power output of the system was lowest when using no heat transfer aid and highest when aluminum fins were used. Metal foam proved to be effective at increasing the power output but did not perform as well as aluminum fins. Metal foam helped increase the open circuit steady state voltage by 10.2%, whereas the aluminum fins increased the open circuit steady state voltage by 61.8%.
Resciniti, Michael J.
"Performance Analysis of an Exhaust Heat Recovery System Utilizing Heat Pipes, Metal Foam, and Thermoelectric Generators,"
ELAIA: Vol. 2, Article 12.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.olivet.edu/elaia/vol2/iss1/12