Realizing high-performance thermoelectric power generation through grain boundary engineering of skutterudite-based nanocomposites

Qihao Zhang, Zhenxing Zhou, Maxwell Dylla, Matthias T. Agne, Yanzhong Pei, Lianjun Wang*, Yunshan Tang, Jincheng Liao, Juan Li, Shengqiang Bai, Wan Jiang, Lidong Chen, Gerald Jeffrey Snyder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

There have been few demonstrations that grain boundary engineering results in higher power generation efficiencies despite serious interest in using the strategy to improve zT. Using both Yb2O3 nanoprecipitates that decorate grain boundaries and carbon nanotubes to further reduce thermal conductivity and improve mechanical strength, a maximum zT of 1.43 at 875 K and a device ZT of approximately 1.0 in Yb-filled CoSb3-based nanocomposites are achieved. The preparation procedure of these materials is repeatable in mass production. Thermoelectric power generation modules based on these high-performance materials demonstrate a thermoelectric conversion efficiency of 9.3% under a temperature difference of 558 K. The results highlight nanostructured grain boundary engineering as a strategy to improve conventional thermoelectric materials, and the realistic prospect of large-scale thermoelectric power generation using skutterudite-based nanocomposites is demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalNano Energy
Volume41
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Keywords

  • Grain boundary engineering
  • Nanocomposites
  • Power generation
  • Skutterudites
  • Thermoelectric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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