This 3D-printed device could help reduce carbon emissions and increase electricity efficiency
Researchers at UK-based Swansea University have developed a potentially more efficient way to turn heat produced during manufacturing into electricity. The 3D-printed device could help reduce carbon emissions and increase electricity efficiency, according to the research team.
There is nothing new about thermoelectric materials, which use heat to generate electricity – or the other way around. But the Swansea team found a way to potentially do it more effectively and at a lower cost.
The team built on a previous study, which found that a compound of tin (Sn) and selenium (Se) is good a thermoelectric material. The problem with the original research was that the process required a great deal of energy, which made it expensive. The team, however, turned the compound into ink. The researchers then created a 3D printer capable of building a thermoelectric generator with that ink.
“Turning waste heat into electrical power can boost energy efficiency significantly, cutting bills and reducing carbon emissions. Our findings show that printed thermoelectric materials using tin selenide are a very promising way forward,” researcher Matt Carnie said.
The team is from SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, a Swansea University-led project. SPECIFIC develops technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The team’s work with tin selenide has already caught the attention of Tata Steel. The manufacturer is reportedly preparing to support further research into the industry applications of the device.