Thermoelectric energy harvesters can be a large business. The new IDTechEx study, "Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting and Other Zero-Emission Electricity from Heat 2022-2042" examines over 100 organisations involved. It finds that the disillusioned manufacturers share a business of mere hundreds of millions of dollars after decades of trying, mainly with bismuth telluride and variants. Every year or two, one goes under.
Contrast the universities and research centres generating about 50 research papers yearly, growing new projects and collaboration. Sadly many still focus on toxic and rare elements and prioritise maximising a figure of merit ZT.
In contrast, the new report is commercially-oriented. It identifies considerable opportunities and the parameters industrialists must optimise for success. Analysts IDTechEx have reported on thermoelectrics for many years using inputs from its PhD level multilingual staff worldwide. This year, the rewritten, re-researched report expands its scope to reflect that allied heat-converting technologies may come to the rescue in some cases. It appraises the 2021 invention of thermopower wave, newly announced cryo-heat harvesting and progressing thermoacoustic harvesting plus good old pyroelectrics and ocean thermal energy conversion. What of the new electricity from Brownian motion? However, the report mainly concerns thermoelectrics because that has clear potential if refocussed.
This report serves all involved in the many emerging forms of heat harvesting for electricity production for example oil and gas companies needing this to green their plants and diversify. It is valuable for all in these value chains from research, materials, devices and systems to integrators. It will also interest those with unsolved problems of electricity production for internet of things nodes, implants, wearables, microgrids, grids, military, aerospace, remote locations and other applications where batteries cannot be charged or changed and photovoltaics and other forms of energy harvesting are impractical or suboptimal.
The new infograms, 20-year forecasts and comparison charts are easily grasped by those who are not insiders. It is analytical not evangelical or academic. It reveals gaps in the market, clarifies what industrialists need for success.
Questions answered include:
- What potential applications are a mirage and why?
- What are genuine and why?
- How should the research be refocussed to create commercial success?
- Forecasts 2022-2042 by application sector, numbers, unit value, market value?
- Market for thermoelectric sensors 2022-2042?
- Analysis of researchers, manufacturers, users?
- What are dead ends, what shows promise and why?
- Parameters that must be optimised by application?
- Progress and potential with stretchable, flexible, sprayable, printed versions?
- How does it compare to thermowave power, thermoacoustic power, cryo-heat harvesting, Brownian electricity, ocean thermal energy conversion and pyroelectrics?
- Comparison tables of 62 thermoelectric manufacturers and product integrators involved?
The report commences with Executive Summary and Conclusions for those in a hurry needing the big picture including new forecasts, new pie charts of manufacturers by country, cost structure of a device and so on with minimal jargon. How does price move with power rating, temperature difference and so on? See some promising materials in the research pipeline that neither have toxic nor expensive elements in them and the 14 materials families dominating research. Tables give reasons for poor penetration of various markets and what to do about it. See 27 primary conclusions. Patent analysis. There is a glossary to assist.
The Introduction presents the options, working principles, systems and production line design. Here is the study of thermoelectric sensors and the trend to flexible energy harvesting and sensors.
Low-power thermoelectrics: flexible, stretchable, implantable, wearable, IoT, MEMS
Chapter 3 "Low-power thermoelectrics: flexible, stretchable, implantable, wearable, IoT, MEMS" mostly concerns temperatures of 20-100C, rigid vs bendable vs flexible and mainly healthcare, consumer wearables and IoT. Learn the heat available on the human body, the coupling issues to it, device size requirements, thermoelectric power available compared to alternatives. In detail, there are exciting developments from 15 institutions appraised and many more in tables.
High power thermoelectrics
Chapter 4 concerns high power thermoelectrics which today means high temperature but in future will strongly embrace 20-300C. This is a world of mosquito zappers, electricity from wood stoves, camp fires, the many industrial waste heat sources quantified. ZT matters little here because better coupling to source is key - we give breakthroughs here - and LCOE. We appraise thermoelectrics in concentrated solar power, radiative cooling at nigh offsetting dead photovoltaics, potential on building facades, tires, roads. Understand why hot-water geothermal power looks promising with thermoelectrics and thermoacoustics if the right parameters are measured and optimised. We closely examine work on industrial waste heat finding reasons to be cautious. Some dead ends here. Seven very different military applications are examined citing new advances and needs - submarines to aircraft and field generators. Then comes water radiator valve actuation at watts, remote site power and the exotica addressed by Teledyne. Boosting solar power and backup of nuclear plant systems are the closing topics of this chapter full of case studies.
Thermoelectric materials, thermoacoustic, cryoelectric, pyroelectric, ocean thermal gradient harvesting
Chapter 5 extensively covers new thermoelectric materials in research and starting commercialisation and what to expect next. Chapter 6 is "New thermoelectric and allied harvesting principles: thermopower waves, quantum dot, spin-driven, Brownian motion, new theories" in plain English, explaining significance. Chapter 7 assesses, "Thermoacoustic, cryoelectric, pyroelectric, ocean thermal gradient harvesting".
68 companies involved in thermoelectrics by country
Chapter 8 has tables comparing 62 companies involved in thermoelectrics by country, where active in research, materials, modules or product integration. It ends with two examples of IDTechEx company profiles with success, weaknesses, opportunities, threats - such SWOT tables also appearing in the earlier text. See IDTechEx analysis, not just consolidation of news. Interviews, calculations, and prediction are characteristic of IDTechEx reports.
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