Poly(3, 4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-Poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) Aerogel-Based Thermoelectric Material

基於聚(3, 4-亞乙二氧基噻吩)-聚(苯乙烯磺酸)氣凝膠的熱電材料

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date25 Sep 2019


Nowadays, energy security is a major problem that human beings are facing. Although international crude oil price has dropped from its historical peak, increasing energy efficiency and finding new energy sources are still urgent tasks. A large portion of existing energy usage requires a heat engine which inevitable discharge some waste heat to ensure continuous running. Some of these waste heat can be retrieved to increase energy efficiency. However, some devices require active cooling system supplied by stable energy to maintain performance or safety, such as running electronic devices or shutting down nuclear reactors. Otherwise, these devices could be damaged and lead to serious consequences. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster 2011 was a textbook case.

In my previous work at Masters Level, I had proved that the active cooling system can be powered by the electricity generated from the waste heat and operated as well as powered by external power.

The core device of my previous work was a thermoelectric generator (TEG), which is a solid state heat engine. Although the efficiency of TEG cannot compare with the efficiency of conventional heat engine, the life time of such solid state heat engine could be hundred years long due to no moving parts in itself. A very well-known example is Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. they have operated for almost 42 years and will continue to communicate with the Deep Space Network to receive and return routine commands and data. These two space probes has three radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) each which are fueled by plutonium-238, a half-life 87.8 years. The radioisotope generates decay heat and the thermoelectric generator convert the decay heat to electricity. TEGs are used to power small electric appliances such as a watch as well.

This research inspires me to design the aerogel structured thermoelectric materials and to explore the theoretical understanding aspects. It has extraordinary significance that if we can use these materials to recycle waste heat, particularly the low grade heat, to apply in the fields of self-powered active cooling, portable smart electronics or even in deep space exploration.