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Heat-to-current conversion of low-grade heat from a thermocapacitive cycle by supercapacitors

  • Thermal energy is abundantly available, and especially low-grade heat is often wasted in industrial processes as a by-product. Tapping into this vast energy reservoir with cost-attractive technologies may become a key element for the transition to an energy-sustainable economy and society. We propose a novel heat-to-current converter which is based on the temperature dependence of the cell voltage of charged supercapacitors. Using a commercially available supercapacitor, we observed a thermal cell-voltage rise of around 0.6 mV K-1 over a temperature window of 0 [degree]C to 65 [degree]C. Within our theoretical model, this can be used to operate a Stirling-like charge-voltage cycle whose efficiency is competitive to the most-efficient thermoelectric (Seebeck) engines. Our proposed heat-to-current converter is built from cheap materials, contains no moving parts, and could operate with a plethora of electrolytes which can be chosen for optimal performance at specific working temperatures. Therefore, this heat-to-current converter is interesting for small-scale, domestic, and industrial applications.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Andreas Härtel, Mathijs Janssen, Daniel Weingarth, Volker PresserORCiD, René van Roij
Parent Title (English):Energy & Environmental Science
First Page:2396
Last Page:2401
Year of first Publication:2015
Date of final exam:2015/07/13
Release Date:2022/11/18
Impact:25.427 (2015)
Funding Information:German Federal Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF) in support of the nanoEES3D project (award number 03EK3013).
Open Access:Open Access
Signature:INM 2015/59
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International