An international team of scientists has created a new highly efficient thermoelectric material. It is capable of efficiently converting heat into electricity.
Today, generating electricity from fossil fuels loses more than 65% of the energy. If there is a technology that will capture this heat and convert it into electricity, it will help in preserving the environment.
To solve the problem of heat and potential energy loss, scientists from Northwestern University have created a promising thermoelectric material in the form of a monocrystalline tin selenide (SnSe) compound. The problem remained the high fragility of the single-crystal form of the compound, which made it difficult to use the find in practice. At the same time, the more stable and plastic polycrystalline form of the compound turned out to be insufficiently suitable for thermoelectric conversion. In polycrystalline form, tin selenide has a high thermal conductivity. This eliminates the unique thermoelectric characteristics of the material.
As a result, the scientists found a problem – it turned out that it consisted in the formation of an oxide film on the surface of the compound. To solve this problem, the experts tested a technical process in which scientists removed oxygen from the chain of chemical reactions. As a result, the researchers obtained tin selenide in polycrystalline form, which was obtained without oxide impurities.
The waste heat conversion efficiency of the “pure” polycrystalline tin selenide compound was approximately 3.1 ZT at 783 K (510 ° C).
The authors of the study note that the production of a new material can be launched without any difficulties.