Electric resistance welding machine. It is a thermo-electric process in which heat is generated at the in- terface of the parts to be joined by passing an electrical current through the parts.

Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Materials

Materials for the Energy Transition roadmaps

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As part of the ongoing Materials for the Energy Transition roadmapping process, the Henry Royce Institute in collaboration with the Institute of Physics have brought together UK experts from academia and industry to explore how materials science can contribute to the 2050 net-zero-carbon targets.

The roadmapping workshops and community activities around materials for decarbonisation of heating and cooling have shown that both thermoelectric materials and caloric materials can enable step-change reductions in energy consumption towards supporting the UK’s net-zero goals, as well as creating new product markets and secondary supply chains. This is through exploring pathways towards accelerated deployment of thermoelectric and caloric energy conversion devices for refrigeration, air conditioning and heating that are non-polluting, compact, efficient, and can be manufactured using sustainable methods.

The UK has a leading research base in thermoelectric materials. Yet commercial exploitation for a range of applications is proving to be an ongoing challenge within the UK despite the rapidly-growing global thermoelectrics market. More advanced characterisation facilities are required to speed up the development of new materials. Improved collaboration and engagement with industry is essential to enable targeted research that focusses on the needs of end-users bridging the knowledge gap between fundamental materials research and commercial device development. Niche application markets are ripe for exploitation, based on hybrid thermoelectric materials systems, where UK researchers have demonstrated clear value propositions, with upstream research to TRL 3 underway across the UK.

Click here to view the Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Materials roadmap

If you would like to cite this document, please use the following text:

Fenwick, O., Jones, A., ‘Materials for the Energy Transition roadmap: Materials Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Materials’, Henry Royce Institute, September 2020 ‘https://www.royce.ac.uk/materials-for-the-energy-transition-thermoelectric-energy-conversion/

“The development of new or improved materials underpins most emerging technologies. Accordingly, the transition to net-zero emissions presents significant opportunities for new materials, and this is particularly the case for thermoelectric technology.  The UK has a leading research base in thermoelectric materials, and the market for thermoelectric devices is growing rapidly. Nonetheless, the sector is still small and has only penetrated a few niche markets. In order for thermoelectric technology to expand into non-niche areas, we need to ensure we can compete on efficiency with incumbent technologies. This will require a concerted effort in developing new sustainable materials with high thermoelectric performance; controlling the interfaces between materials that occur in devices; and engineering the devices themselves.

The challenge is significant, but the opportunity for the UK in this sector is huge, with 17% of our CO2 emissions coming from space heating and cooling. Breakthroughs in thermoelectrics can be achieved with sustained targeted research funding that addresses skills gaps, develops new advanced tools, and facilitates networking between stake-holders.”  

Dr Oliver Fenwick | Royal Society University Research Fellow | Queen Mary University of London | Theme Lead for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Materials 

Materials for the Energy Transition Roadmap Webinar

Click here to view a presentation Dr Oliver Fenwick (Queen Mary University of London) on the key findings from the Materials for the Energy Transition roadmapping for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Materials.

This presentation was part of the Materials for the Energy Transition Road Map Webinar held by the Henry Roye Institute and the Institute of Physics on 15 June 2020. The full webinar recording can be viewed here.