Advanced thermoelectric (TE) energy recovery and cooling systems have critical benefits in transportation, industrial process, and military applications because of rising or uncertain energy costs and subsequent need for energy efficiency, geopolitical uncertainties impacting basic energy supplies worldwide, and the need for electrified, distributed cooling and heating systems in automotive applications. Advanced TE energy recovery and cooling technologies will require high-performance heat transfer characteristics to achieve system performance targets and requirements. However, TE energy recovery systems generally have high-temperature thermal transfer requirements (i.e., as high as 750–800 °C), while TE cooling systems require low temperature thermal transfer (i.e., 25 °C – 100 °C). Investigations have compared system power and cooling benefits and system thermal integration challenges of energy recovery and cooling systems using microchannel heat exchangers to provide high heat transfer performance in both high-temperature, high-enthalpy energy streams and low-temperature cooling streams. This work explores the roadmap and vision for using micro-technology solutions integrated with advanced thermoelectric materials in advanced TE power generation and cooling systems. Integrated system-level TE power generation and cooling system analyses demonstrate that inter-related system-level requirements on weight, volume, and performance lead to derived requirements for micro-technology solutions. Nano-technologies and micro-technologies will be presented that demonstrate where and how these technologies impact TE system designs. Of course, micro-technology manufacturing cost is critical in all energy recovery and cooling applications. Recent progress in microtechnology cost-modeling elucidates and quantifies key cost-manufacturing interdependencies, relationships, and sensitivities that will be explored in this presentation. This provides critical information on manufacturing processes, production volume dependence, material selections, and ultimately pathways forward leading to low-cost microtechnology heat and mass transfer devices that improve advanced TE energy recovery and cooling system performance (specifically including weight and volume impacts).

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