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Optimization of Thermoelectric Generator Array for

Harnessing Wasted Heat from Home Appliances


Harold T. Asuncion, Michael Joshua G. Eresuela, Gladys T. Obmerga, Pinky S. Pal-lingayan,
Engr. Julius S. Cansino, Engr. Ferdinand O. Natividad, Bachelor of Science in Computer
Engineering, PUP
Abstract One of the major problems
worldwide is the decreasing of the worlds
energy resources due to its inefficient use.
Thus, different sectors and researchers
continues to find some alternative sources
of energy that may help to solve the
problem. The use of thermoelectric
devices to convert wasted heat into a
usable electricity is one of the proposed
solution to be a new source of energy.
Aside from this, it can also help to utilize
the heat coming from different machines
or home appliances which adds to the
problem of global warming. This study is
conducted to design a thermoelectric
module to harvest wasted heat from home
appliances having flat surfaces and
convert it into electricity to be able to
charge
low-powered
devices.
A
microcontroller and a DC to DC booster
was used to regulate, control and monitor
the system. Based from the results, the
system produced enough power needed to
charge a mobile phone and therefore the
system
achieved
its
objectives.
Improvements on the design and the
materials used will make the system more
efficient to use.
Index Terms Thermoelectric, Renewable
Energy, Heat, Wasted Heat, Home
Appliances
I.

INTRODUCTION

Worlds
natural
resources
are
terminating at a significant rate. Because
fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas
are the most predominately used energy
sources, the need for an economically and
commercially practical renewable energy

source is dire. These fossil fuels account for


around 88% of the worlds energy needs,
however, the rate at which they are produced
is significantly lower than the rate at which
society is using them.
Electricity today is a means of utilizing
other energies such as solar, wind,
hydroelectric, and thermal, harnessing,
converting and generating such energy to
one format. In fact, most of todays
application of energy is in and for the form
of electricity. It is therefore vital to consider
other means and types of electricity
conversion processes.
Continuous efforts are being made for
alternative power generation techniques. In
1885, Rayleigh first considered the
possibility of thermoelectric generation of
electricity. Thermoelectric generators are all
solid-state devices that convert heat into
electricity. Unlike traditional dynamic heat
engines, thermoelectric generators contain
no moving parts and are completely silent.
Ref [1]
Employing
the
Seebeck
effect,
thermoelectric power generators convert
heat energy to electricity. When temperature
gradient is created across the thermoelectric
device, a DC voltage develops across the
terminals. When a load is properly
connected, electrical current flows. Ref [2]
Ref [3] Since the Philippines is
considered among the most vulnerable
countries to climate change and utilization
of renewable energy is one of the best ways
to mitigate the effects of climate change, the
country conducted their own researches and
developed applications using thermoelectric
generators and making use of the wasted
heat from the factories or even in small unit
like home to be able to produce another

source of energy not depending on the


worlds resources which continues to
decrease at this moment.
This study focused on the potential of
converting wasted from different home
appliances into a useable power through
application of thermoelectric effect.
II. METHODOLOGY
A. Sources of Data
Researchers conducted an 11-question
survey in order to gain information from
those people who would possibly use the
system. The respondents chosen to be part of
the study are the people who usually stays at
home, in offices or in school who uses home
appliances in their daily routine, which is
the target of the system.
The researchers also gathered their
resources in thesis journals and other written
documents such as textbooks, magazines,
books and manuals. They also make use of
internet to gather data needed in the study
outside the country.
B. Description of the Respondents
Respondents came from different types
of area: 71 respondents from urban and 79
respondents from rural for a total of 150
respondents. The reason why the researchers
considered the type of area is because the
way the respondents make use of home
appliances based from the type or area is
different. Thus the result of the survey will
cover all means of using home appliances
considering the type of location they are
into.
C. Block Diagram
The block diagram shows the design of
direct conversion of sensible heat into
electricity. Waste heat will be the initial and
as it pass through the thermoelectric cooler
array it enters the control unit. The voltage
and the current is monitored by the
microcontroller before it charge one of the
batteries. The thermoelectric generator array

Figure 1. Block Diagram of the whole


system
is responsible for harvesting the heat,
converting it into electricity by simply
maintaining a high temperature difference.
From the battery selected to produce DC
voltage that will be outputted through USB
connector. And with a mobile charger to
USB adaptor it will charge mobile devices.
D. System Implementation
The harvester is collecting heat from
home appliances and convert it into
electricity with the use of thermoelectric
coolers. A 0.9v to 5v DC to DC boost
converter is applied since the initial output
voltage from the thermoelectric cooler array
is expected to be lower or equal to 2 volts
depending on the temperature difference.
The following schematic diagrams
are used to drive the components responsible
for the heat harvester and for the system.
Figure 2. Schematic Diagram for the System
Monitoring
Figure 2 shows the connection of
the microcontroller to different parts of the

control unit. The microcontroller is in charge


on monitoring system by interpreting the
inputs to the system.
Before the battery charges, the
microcontroller will measure and check if
the input voltage is exactly 5 volts. The user
will choose which battery will be used to
charge the mobile device/s through manual
switching.
Figure 3. Connection of 20x4 LCD Display
to microcontroller
The LCD display shows the battery
status, harvesters voltage and temperature
reading. Also, LED indicators is also used
for monitoring.

C. Fabrication of the Device


Figure 3. Heat Harvester of the System
The proponents identified all the
materials or devices that they used in the
machine. The system is composed of two
parts: the harvester and the control unit. The
harvester is composed of the copper plate
(hot side) and aluminum heat sink (cold
side).
Between the copper sheet and the
thermoelectric cooler which arrayed in
series manner, a thin layer of thermal paste
for rapid heat transfer. To keep the
aluminum heat sink cold and to insulate the

wires from the heat coming from the copper


plate, silicon gasket maker is applied on the
edges of the heat sink and thermoelectric
coolers. This will also allow the heat to be
isolated only on TEG Array. The control unit
is a metal compartment consisting the
different
circuit
module:
systems
monitoring, battery switching and lithium
battery protection. The LED display is
mounted on the top of control unit with the
light indicators for battery status, harvesters
voltage and current and temperature reading.
The socket for the harvesters connector and
the USB port for output is located on the
side.
III.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

As the system is being switched on the


LCD display shows the connection status of
the harvester, battery percentage status. And
as the harvester is being applied directly to
the heat source the LED shows the voltage,
current and temperature reading of the
harvester.
After all the procedures has been
implemented, it showed that TEC cooler
produced an output voltage ranging from
0.7v-2v depending on the temperature
difference produced between the heat sink
(Cold side) and the hot surface of some
home appliances having flat surface like flat
iron, refrigerator, or the top of microwave
oven. The output from the TEC Array, which
is boosted from 0.7v to 5v charged a lowpowered device, thus it can be used as
another source of energy to charge you
gadgets.
IV.

CONCLUSION

Based from the rapid growth of the users


electric consumptions and unawareness of
how the wasted heat from home appliances
can affect climate change, the proponents
have concluded that the heat harvester
utilizing thermoelectric modules can
minimize the huge amount of electric
consumption and can help lessen the
problem about climate change. Instead of
the existing ways of using thermoelectric-

only gathering wasted heat from selected


appliances, the proponents come up with a
device that could collect heat from different
home appliances. The gathered heat
converted to electricity and store it to
battery, it can also be used to charge mobile
device. The device also features a
monitoring system to avoid voltage loss
from excessive charging of the battery.
Installation of waste heat recovery
system using thermoelectric modules is a
potential alternative source of energy from
home appliances. But, the device used in
this study still needs improvement. The
device needed a reliable cooling system
aside from heat sink for higher temperature
difference, thus producing higher voltage.
The harvester should cover heat dissipating
heating element aside from flat surfaced
home appliances. The design of the control
unit should cover the harvester casing for
convenient portability. Future researches
may also developed automated battery
switching in charging and discharging of the
batteries and also they may apply highcapacity batteries for long term and for
storing more voltage and longer period of
battery discharge.
V. REFERENCES
[1]

[2]

[3]

Development of Miniature Personal


Generator by Riaan Brink, Dublin
City University, September 2004
[Online].
Available:
http://doras.dcu.ie/17403/1/riaan_bri
nk_RR.pdf
An Introduction to Thermoelectrics
[Online].
Available:
http://fraden.brandeis.edu/courses/p
hys39/Thermal
%20Control/hardware/introductionto-thermoelectrics.pdf
Renewable
Energy:
Key
to
Achieving a low carbon future
[Online].
Available:
http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/
2014/06/08/1332226/renewableenergy-key-achieving-low-carbonfuture

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

Criselda Marie A. Balsazo, Kevin


Dustin T. Castillo, Michelle M.
Llanes, Harold Glenn D. Los Banos.
Engine Waste Heat Recovery
Employing Thermoelectrci Devices
to Partially Supply the Electrical
Requirement of a Sedan Type
Vehicle, Mapua Institute of
Technology, November 2012
Arjel Joseph B. Bayacal, Edward
DC. Cabanalan, Edwin A. Gabon,
Electronic Stove with Digital Heat
Control and Timer, Mapua Institute
of Technology, September 2008.
Conservation of Energy [Online].
Available:
http://www.eoht.info/page/Conserva
tion+of+energy
Molan
Li
ThermoelectricGenerator-Based DCDC Conversion
Network
for
Automotive
Applications, Master of Science
Thesis, Stockholm Sweden 2011.

Harold Asuncion is a 5th Year of Bachelor


of Science Computer Engineering student of
Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
External Vice-President of ACCESS.
Knowledgeable in programming (HTML,
CSS, VB.NET, JAVA and PHP). (E-mail:
asuncionharold@gmail.com)

Michael Joshua G. Eresuela is a 5th Year of


Bachelor of Science Computer Engineering
student of Polytechnic University of the
Philippines. Knowledgeable in programming
(HTML, CSS, VB.NET and PHP) and
multimedia (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After
Effects
and
Adobe
Illustrator).
(Email:

michael.eresuela08@yahoo.com)
Gladys T. Obmerga is a 5th Year of
Bachelor of Science Computer Engineering
student of Polytechnic University of the
Philippines. Knowledgeable in programming
(HTML, CSS, VB.NET, JAVA and PHP, C+

+
and
C#).
gladysobmerga19@gmail.com)

(Email:

Pinky S. Pal-lingayan is a 5th Year of


Bachelor of Science Computer Engineering
student of Polytechnic University of the
Philippines. Knowledgeable in programming
(HTML, CSS, VB.NET, JAVA and PHP).
(E-mail: pinkypallingayan@gmail.com)
Engr. Ferdinand O. Natividad is currently
a full-time faculty of the PUP Computer
Engg Department, teaching Circuits,
Electronic Devices & Circuit Theory, and
Control Systems. He was also the former
laboratory head of the same department
from March, 2008 until February, 2014.
Engr. Julius S. Cansino was the former
chairperson of the PUP Computer
Engineering Department from January, 2006
until June, 2008. He is currently a full-time
faculty of the same department at PUP,
teaching programming and taking advisory
classes in Design Projects I and II.