4.7 Article

Thermocells-enabled low-grade heat harvesting: challenge, progress, and prospects


Volume 27, Issue -, Pages -


DOI: 10.1016/j.mtener.2022.101032


Thermogalvanic cell; Redox pair; n-type; Thermoelectric; Sustainable energy


  1. National Science Foun-dation [CMMI-1934120, CMMI-1933679]

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Low-grade heat is often wasted due to the lack of cost-effective recovery technologies. Thermocells based on temperature-sensitive redox pairs show promise for harvesting low-grade heat. This paper summarizes the performances of p-type and n-type thermocells, analyzes the thermodynamics and kinetics of thermocells, and proposes potential research directions.
Low-grade heat is abundant and ubiquitous, but it is generally discarded due to the lack of cost-effective recovery technologies. Emerging thermocells (TECs) based on temperature-sensitive redox pairs demonstrate advantages of low cost, scalability, flexibility, and inherent high thermopower, and thus are promising for low-grade heat harvesting. According to the temperature gradient-potential relationship, TECs can be divided into p-type (V-hot - V-cold/T-hot - T-cold < 0) and n-type (V-hot - V-cold/T-hot - T-cold > 0). To obtain higher output voltages and avoid thermal shorts, Pi-integration (electrically in series but thermally in parallel) of single p-type and n-type TECs is required. This paper first summarizes the thermo-electric performances of p-type and n-type TECs. Although the state-of-the-art p-type (Fe(CN)(6)(4-/3-)) TECs possess a commercializable cost-performance metric, the performance of n-type TECs, such as thermopower and power density, lags significantly, hindering the potential of integrated p-n TECs in heat recovery. Subsequently, this paper analyzes the thermodynamics, kinetics, and bottlenecks of TECs and identifies several potential p-type and n-type redox pairs with high absolute value of temperature coefficient (dE(0)/dT) and low absolute value of electrode potential (E-0) for high-performance TECs. Then, this paper reviews the recent advances in TECs, especially n-type, from the aspects of electrolytes, electrodes, and integrated devices. Finally, this paper proposes potential research directions for high-performance TECs. (c) 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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