This paper presents the design, implementation and evaluation of a thermoelectric-based point of use power generation system with no moving parts. The power system was designed to be robust and stable, capable of being clamped onto the outer wall of a hot steam pipe with a temperature of over 160°C using only heat pipes and natural convection of ambient air for cooling.
Several systems were built and tested. One system was built and tested at the Cooper Union in New York City. The power generation was evaluated for different ambient and steam pipe temperatures. The other systems were attached to an 85°C geothermal hot water pipe and a 100–120°C geothermal steam pipe in Iceland. The Cooper Union system was used to power two microcontroller based security cameras, one with wireless LAN and another with cellular connectivity. Additional testing of the PV voltage controller and the generator were conducted in Iceland.
The results show that the system can be used to power surveillance systems, even in remote locations without access to the electrical grid. Because the system does not require grid access, it will run constantly, and hence improve security. Furthermore, the unit’s power generation is greater in colder environments that substantially degrade battery performance.