Nanostructured Bulk Thermoelectrics : Scalable Fabrication Routes, Processing and Evaluation
Sammanfattning: Current fossil fuel based energy sources have a huge shortcoming when one discusses their efficiency. The conversion efficiency of fossil fuel-based technologies is less than 40% in best cases. Therefore, until the renewable energy section is mature enough to handle all the energy demand one has to research and develop the technologies available to harvest the energy from the waste heat generated in fossil fuel-based supply sources. One of these emerging technologies is the use of thermoelectric (TE) devices to achieve this goal, which are solid-state devices capable of directly interconverting between heat and electrical energy. In the past decade there has been a significant scientific and financial investment within the field to enhance their properties and result in time/energy efficient fabrication processes of TE materials and devices for a more sustainable environment.In this thesis with use of chemical synthesis routes for nanostructured bulk thermoelectric materials iron antimonide (FeSb2), skutterudites (based on general formula of RzMxCo1-xSb3-yNy) and copper selenide (Cu2Se) are developed. These materials are promising candidates for use in thermoelectric generators (TEG) or for sensing applications. Using chemical synthesis routes such as chemical co-precipitation, salt melting in marginal solvents and thermolysis, fabrication of these TE materials with good performance can be performed with high degree of reproducibility, in a much shorter time, and easily scalable manner for industrial processes. The TE figure of merit ZT of these materials is comparable to, or better than their conventional method counterparts to ensure the applicability of these processes in industrial scale.Finally, through thorough investigation, optimized consolidation parameters were generated for compaction of each family of materials using Spark Plasma Sintering technique (SPS). As each family of TE nanomaterial investigated in this thesis had little to no prior consolidation literature available, specific parameters had to be studied and generated. The aim of studies on compaction parameters were to focus on preservation of the nanostructured features of the powder while reaching a high compaction density to have positive effects on the materials TE figure of merit.
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