Increased interest in thermoelectric energy harvesting throughout 2014, particularly in automotive applications, has led analysts IDTechEx to predict that “thermoelectric energy harvesting will be on production hybrid electric on-road vehicles from 2018.”
According to Dr Peter Harrop, IDTechEx Chairman, up to 2014, there was only limited interest in thermoelectric energy harvesting. BMW had worked on it for 20 years without bringing anything to market. However, 2014 saw a sharp change in attitude caused by a number of ground-breaking developments.
In Japan, Komatsu KELK trialled 1.5 kW thermoelectric modules on its huge construction vehicles showing that thermoelectric harvesting was no longer just about providing signal power.
Also, Komatsu and others more than doubled the efficiency of thermoelectric devices to up to 7.5%, creating, for example, electricity from electronic components that run hot. Schneider Electric started to use these on wireless sensors triggered and powered by heat outages on such things as copper power busbars.
These developments as well as intelligence gathering in Japan, USA and Europe has led IDTechEx to the conclusion that thermoelectric energy harvesting on hybrid electric engines and exhausts will soon be viable.The only thing the analysts disagree about is whether hybrid cars will be first to adopt it or buses, because they are sold not on up-front price but on cost of ownership and green credentials.
Energy Harvesting 2015, sponsored by the EHSIG, looks at thermoelectric, electromagnetic, piezoelectric, non-linear, broadband, MEMS, indoor light and textile based energy harvesting as well as energy management and RF power transfer. The event, which also features demonstations and speakers from industry and academia, takes place in London on 19 March 2015, more details from the Energy Harvesting Network.