Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Liquid tin-sulfur compound shows thermoelectric potential

Glass and steel makers produce large amounts of wasted heat energy at high temperatures, but solid-state thermoelectric devices that convert heat to electricity either don’t operate at high enough temperatures or cost so much that their use is limited to special applications such as spacecraft. MIT researchers have developed a liquid thermoelectric device with a molten compound of tin and sulfur that can efficiently convert waste heat to electricity, opening the way to affordably transforming waste heat to power at high temperatures.
Youyang Zhao, a graduate student in assistant professor of metallurgy Antoine Allanore’s research group, built a thermoelectric test cell that operates in a liquid state at temperatures from 950 to 1,074 degrees Celsius (1,742 to 1,965 degrees Fahrenheit). Commercial thermoelectric devices, based on materials such as solid-state bismuth telluride, operate at about 500 C, and a block of bismuth telluride costs in the neighborhood of 150 times more than tin sulfide per cubic meter.

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