In order to economically convert waste heat into electricity, a cost-efficient module manufacturing process is required. Fraunhofer IPM has wide-ranging expertise in the field of thermoelectric materials, including a profound understanding of chalcogenides, silicides, skutterudites and half-Heusler alloys. On the basis of this knowledge, we manufacture thermoelectric modules in varying sizes and designs – from materials processing to the production of so-called thermoelectric legs, right up to the finished module. Of particular note are the exceedingly durable assembly and packaging technologies that we have developed for half-Heusler compounds.
The design of thermoelectric modules differs highly as a matter of principle depending on the application: Thin-layer systems are suitable primarily for cooling and tempering purposes, because they allow the greatest quantity of heat to pass. For generators, by contrast, there is a need to optimize the leg length to obtain the lowest possible heat loss. It is necessary to develop an appropriate assembly and packaging technology which can adapt to the temperature gradients and thermal changes without damage even over long periods of time.
Fraunhofer IPM is working on developments in all stages of the production chain:
- material processing for production of thermoelectric »legs«
- bonding techniques for joining heat conductors
- reduction of the electrical resistance at transitions
- optimization of module geometries
- proving reliability in endurance tests