Thermoelectric Applications in Waste Heat Recovery

In this project, we will explore the capability to produce meaningful amounts of electricity by thermoelectric generation from waste heat in industrial applications.  We will derive theory to evaluate the capability of thermoelectric power generators and design and build simple thermoelectric generation devices to test the theory.  We will compare metal and semiconductor thermoelectric materials. 

The capabilities of thermoelectric generators to generate a voltage difference are governed by the Seebeck effect.  Simply put, the larger the temperature difference, the larger the voltage difference.  The material over which the temperature difference exists is a key control on the resulting voltage difference.  Single devices may not be sufficient to derive large currents but linking many devices, especially if attached to process units that operate at high temperatures and have large waste heat losses, e.g. coking units in oil sands operations, may provide meaningful amounts of power at little cost (simply the cost of manufacturing the thermoelectric devices and wiring them together). 

The student will conduct a detailed literature review on the subject, derive a theory for power generation, and construct a simple test apparatus to evaluate the theory. 

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Ian Gates


Ishank Arora



Engineering - chemical / biological


Alternative energy


University of Calgary


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