Thermal Energy Converters

»With us, material makes the difference«

In the »Thermal Energy Converters« department, we manufacture and optimize materials with special physical properties. We use caloric and thermoelectric materials to build novel systems for cooling, temperature control and heat conversion.

Groups of the Department Thermal Energy Converters

»We are working on a new generation of cooling technology«

The group’s research focuses on developing innovative systems that facilitate efficient heating and cooling using caloric materials. The goal is to make heat pumps and cooling systems exceptionally efficient and eco-friendly through the use of magnetocaloric, electrocaloric and elastocaloric materials. Our work draws on more than 20 years of experience in functional materials, in particular the characterization, simulation and system integration thereof.

The group, directed by Dr Kilian Bartholomé, is developing new types of heat pipes to enable efficient heat transfer in heat-stressed components. These »pulsating heat pipes« transfer heat by an order of magnitude more efficient than copper, and thus lay the foundations for an entirely new type of heat release in components exposed to extreme thermal stress.



»We cover the entire spectrum of thermoelectrics«

In the »Thermoelectric Systems« group, directed by Dr. Olaf Schäfer-Welsen, we focus on

  • »Energy harvesting« – heat recovery by thermogenerators
  • Precision cooling
  • Sensors for temperature, thermal flow, radiation (thermo elements, thermopile detectors)
  • Thermoelectric measurement technology

For more than 20 years, scientists at Fraunhofer IPM have been developing new thermoelectric materials and components for various applications, starting with thermopile detectors and ranging through thermogenerators to high-performance Peltier coolers. In this work, they optimize materials such as Bi2Te3, PbTe, skutterudites, silicides and half-Heusler compounds, work out new opportunities in structuring and connection techniques and also produce systems for increasing energy efficiency that are already in operation. Today, the group’s know-how covers the entire spectrum of thermoelectrics ranging from material design to the development of electrical modules and systems, simulation to customer-specific measurement technology. For direct heat recovery on the basis of the Seebeck effect, scientists are working on efficient thermoelectric materials and converters. One of the group’s core competencies is the design of electrical and thermal contacts for high temperature regimes.