A Novel Identification Method of Thermal Resistances of Thermoelectric Modules Combining Electrical Characterization Under Constant Temperature and Heat Flow Conditions

Saima Siouane, Slavisa Jovanovic, Philippe Poure


The efficiency of a Thermoelectric Module (TEM) is not only influenced by the material properties, but also by the heat losses due to the internal and contact thermal resistances. In the literature, the material properties are mostly discussed, mainly to increase the well-known thermoelectric figure of merit ZT. Nevertheless, when a TEM is considered, the separate characterization of the materials of the p and n elements is not enough to have a suitable TEM electrical model and evaluate more precisely its efficiency. Only a few recent papers deal with thermal resistances and their influence on the TEM efficiency; mostly, the minimization of these resistances is recommended, without giving a way to determine their values. The aim of the present paper is to identify the internal and contact thermal resistances of a TEM by electrical characterization. Depending on the applications, the TEM can be used either under constant temperature gradient or constant heat flow conditions. The proposed identification approach is based on the theoretical electrical modeling of the TEM, in both conditions. It is simple to implement, because it is based only on open circuit test conditions. A single electrical measurement under both conditions (constant-temperature and constant-heat) is needed. Based on the theoretical electrical models, one can identify the internal and thermal resistances.


Thermoelectric Module (TEM); thermal resistances; contact thermal resistance; electrical characterization; identification; electrical model

Full Text:



R. Ahiska and H. Mamur, “Design and implementation of a new portable thermoelectric generator for low geothermal temperatures,” Renewable Power Generation, IET, Vol. 7, No. 6, pp. 700-706, 2013.

C-T. Hsu, D-J. Yao, K-J. Ye and B. Yu, “ Renewable energy of waste heat recovery system for automobiles,” Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2010.

A. Dewan, S-U. Ay, M. N-Karim and H. Beyenal, “Alternative power sources for remote sensors: A review,” Journal of Power Sources, Elsevier, vol. 245, pp. 129-143, 2014.

J. P. Carmo, L. M. Gonalves and J. H. Correia, “ Thermoelectric microconverter for energy harvesting systems,” IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, vol. 57, No.3, pp. 861-867, 2010.

M. Kishi, H. Nemoto, T. Hamao, M. Yamamoto et al, “ Micro thermoelectric modules and their application to wristwatches as an energy source,” In IEEE International Conference on Thermoelectrics Eighteenth, pp. 301-307, 1999.

D. Kraemer, B.Poudel, H. P. Feng, J. C. Caylor et al , “ High performance flat-panel solar thermoelectric generators with high thermal concentration,” Nature materials, Vol. 10, no.7, pp. 532-538, 2011.

S. Shanhe and C. Jincan, “Simulation investigation of high efficiency solar thermoelectric generators with inhomogeneously doped nanomaterials,” IEEE Trans on indus elec, Vol. 62, No. 6, pp. 3569-3575, 2015.

X-F. Zheng, C-X. Liu, Y-Y. Yan and Q. Wang, “A review of thermoelectrics researchRecent developments and potentials for sustainable

and renewable energy applications,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol.32, pp. 486-503, 2014.

M-H. Elsheikh, D-A. Shnawah, M-F-M. Sabri, S-B-M. Said, M-H. Hassan, et al., “A review on thermoelectric renewable energy: Principle

parameters that affect their performance,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 30, pp. 337-355, 2014.

S. Zhou, B-G. Sammakia, B. White and P. Borgesen, “A multiscale modeling of Thermoelectric Generators for conversion efficiency optimization,” Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems (ITherm), 13th IEEE Intersociety Conference on pp. 985-992,

O. Yamashita, N. Sadatomi, “ Thermoelectric properties of Si1-xGex (x¡= 0.10) with alloy and dopant segregations,” Journal of Applied

Physics, Vol. 88, pp. 245-251, 2000.

T. M Tritt , H. Bottner, L. Chen, “ Thermoelectrics: direct solar thermal energy conversion,” MRS Bull, Vol. 33, pp. 3668, 2008.

D.M. Rowe, CRC handbook of thermoelectrics. London, NY, USA, CRC Press, 1995.

B. Poudel, Q. Hao, Y. Ma, Y. Lan, A, Minnich, et al , “Highthermoelectric performance of nanostructured bismuth antimony telluride

bulk alloys,” Science, Vol. 320, pp. 634-638, 2008.

W. G. J. H. M. Van Sark, “Feasibility of photovoltaicthermoelectric hybrid modules,” Applied Energy, Vol. 88, No. 8, pp. 2785-2790, 2011.

Saima Siouane, Slavisa Jovanovic and Philippe Poure, “ Influence of contact thermal resistances on the Open Circuit Voltage MPPT method

for Thermoelectric Generators“, IEEE International Energy Conference - EnergyCon, Leuven, Belgium, April 4-8, 2016.

B. Rasmus, “The Universal Influence of Contact Resistance on the Efficiency of a Thermoelectric Generator,” Journal of electronic materials,

Vol. 44, No. 8, pp. 2869-2876, 2015.

Saima Siouane, Slavisa Jovanovic and Philippe Poure, “ Fully electrical modeling of thermoelectric generators with contact thermal resistance

under different operating conditions“, Journal of electronic materials, pp. 1-11, 2016.

M.-J. Dousti, A. Petraglia, and M. Pedram, “Accurate electrothermal modeling of Thermoelectric Generators,” In Proceedings of the DATE,

pp. 1603-1606, 2015.

M. Freunek, M. Muller, T. Ungan, W. Walker and L-M. Reindl, “New physical model for thermoelectric generators,” Journal of electronic

materials, Vol. 38, No. 7, pp. 1214-1220, 2009.

G. Fraisse, J. Ramousse, D. Sgorlon and C. Goupil, “Comparison of different modeling approaches for thermoelectric elements, Energy

Conversion and Management,“ Elsevier, vol. 65, pp. 351-356, 2013.

E-J. S.Rosado, S-J. Weinstein and R-J. Stevens, “On the Thomson effect in thermoelectric power devices,” International Journal of Thermal

Sciences, Elsevier, Vol. 67, pp. 5363, 2013.

A. Montecucco, J. Siviter and A-R. Knox, “Constant heat characterisation and geometrical optimisation of thermoelectric generators,” Elsevier,

Applied Energy, Vol. 149, pp. 248-258, 2015.

N. Karami and N. Moubayed, “New modeling approach and validation of a Thermoelectric Generators,” 23rd IEEE In International symposium

on industrial electronics (ISIE), pp. 586-591, 2014.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22149/teee.v1i4.72


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Saima Siouane, Slavisa Jovanovic, Philippe Poure

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

SSL Certificate