Sustainable energy has always been a problem of the world. Traditional biomass remains the dominant source of electricity in the world wherein roughly 25 percent of the world utilizes energy from renewable resources.
In our idea, we plan to integrate Thermoelectric Generators (TEG) which are also called Peltier Tiles unto rooftops of various buildings to generate electricity. The attached document is our Capstone project and research about it; though the paper focuses on Dubai, it is applicable to the whole world.
Thermoelectric generators work in two ways: 1) Peltier Effect : by applying a voltageto the modules, it creates a temperature gradient where one side is hotter and one side is colder. 2) Seebeck Effect : by applying a temperature difference on both sides of the module (e.g. the heat of the sun on one side and air condition on the inside), it will generate a voltage.
Our idea is to integrate these TEGmodules unto rooftops where it would generate electricity throughout the day through the use of the Seebeck effect. The generation of electricity works as long as there is a temperature difference on both sides of the module. The module is simply atile where a series of P:type and N:type semiconductors are sandwiched in between two ceramic (or an alternative) tiles.
These TEG:integrated rooftops will work in any kind of climate as long as there is a temperature difference : whether in a snowy climate or a tropical one. Here are some examples:
- Dubai, hot Climate : a building is cooled with an air conditioning system while the outside climate is really hot.
- Canada, cold climate : a small cabin is heated with a heat pipe heater while the outside climate is really cold (snowfall).
Changing the polarity placement of the modules' cables will the determine the "hot" side and the "cold" side of the tile, therefore, it provides huge flexibility and ease of use regardless of location and climate. The generated electricity would then be stored in an energy cell (similar to a power bank or battery) and the stored electricity would be used over a period of time. The reason it would be stored in an energy cell is that the TEGs would generate electricity 24/7 as long as there is a temperature difference on its two sides but the electricity generation would not be consistent throughout the day due to the fact that the weather changes from time to time. There will be no fixed generation rate but there is surely an electricity generation.
Implementing this idea would be a world changer, especially if it became a compulsory material in every rooftop of the world. One of the weaknesses of this idea is that TEG or Peltier Tiles, in general, are not yet fully developed and researched on. These tiles are being used on refrigerators and other industrial machinery for their main use : the Peltier effect, wherein it produces heat on one side.Also, consumer TEGs/Peltier tiles only exist in a small 40mm by 40mm form factor.
One of our goals in this project is to help drive the innovation and research for Thermoelectric generators. People only got interested in the idea of generating electricity with these tiles 2 years ago and it would take some time before these tiles get the exposure, research, and development it needs. TEGs are expensive to make and it's not the most efficient renewable source out there but with the help of time and research, Thermoelectric generators would trample solar panels; its price, efficiency, and reliability would increase overtime : hopefully, in a compounding rate.
Since modern Thermoelectric generators are currently not too efficient (2019), we also plan to integrate two layers of heatsinks on the two sides of the module/tile and various compounds like thermal paste and cooling gels to maximize and amplify the temperature difference which would result in an increase in electricity generation.
This idea will be truly sustainable in the near future if further research and development will be conducted regarding the TEGs/Peltier tiles. As for now, it is still sustainable but its initial costs and maintenance are unknown. One thing we know for sure is that this idea will surely be a world changer : if only the puzzle pieces fall to its places on time.
One video that inspired us in this project idea: https://youtu.be/PAMzAGge8bM
Note: The attached document is our grade 12 Capstone project and its focus is on the buildings of our school located in Dubai, UAE. We uploaded the document as a guide or reference for our main idea of integrating Thermoelectric generators on rooftops.