Maintenance is, amongst others, a key cost driver in aircraft operation. A wireless monitoring device might be able to reduce these costs. However, the supply of energy to such system via power lines would result in additional cabling and battery operation would lead to additional maintenance. Thermoelectric energy harvesting, as a power source for such devices, is considered as one the most promising approaches for autonomous energy conversion onboard fixed wing aircraft. Using thermoelectric generators (TEGs), the temperature difference, between the inside and outside of the cabin, can be used to generate electrical energy.
In this paper an energy harvesting device, for aircraft application needs and requirements, is designed and optimized using modeling and simulation. A variety of models are used for analyzing the static and dynamic behavior of the device. A one-dimensional heat transfer model is used to identify critical parameters, while a detailed three-dimensional heat-transfer and airflow model is used to study realistic operating conditions. The proposed design leads to a significant increase of peak and average output power, specific energy productions and decrease of response time of the harvester.