A study of heat sink performance in air and soil for use in a thermoelectric energy harvesting device

E. E. Lawrence, G. J. Snyder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

56 Scopus citations


A suggested application of a thermoelectric generator is to exploit the natural temperature difference between the air and the soil to generate small amounts of electrical energy. Since the conversion efficiency of even the best thermoelectric generators available is very low, the performance of the heat sinks providing the heat flow is critical. By providing a constant heat input to various heat sinks, field tests of their thermal conductances in soil and in air were performed. A prototype device without a thermoelectric generator was constructed, buried, and monitored to experimentally measure the heat flow achievable in such a system. Theoretical considerations for design and selection of improved heat sinks are also presented. In particular, the method of shape factor analysis is used to give rough estimates and upper bounds for the thermal conductance of a passive heat sink buried in soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings ICT 2002
Subtitle of host publication21st International Conference on Thermoelectrics
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)0780376838
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Event21st International Conference on Thermoelectrics, ICT 2002 - Long Beach, United States
Duration: Aug 25 2002Aug 29 2002

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Thermoelectrics, ICT, Proceedings


Other21st International Conference on Thermoelectrics, ICT 2002
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLong Beach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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