THELMA - thermoelectric materials
Nanostructuring for improving the energy efficiency of thermoelectric generators and heat-pumps.
About the project
The main objective of THELMA is to advance thermoelectric technology towards commercial maturity, and by that developing novel heat pump technology as well as a versatile tool for heat recovery and exploitation.
This will be accomplished by combining synthesis and material characterization, thorough performance measurements, and fundamental theoretical analyses and computations of the material properties.
The partners within THELMA will focus on four challenging topics:
- improving conversion efficiency
- reducing environmental impact
- aiding commercialization and
- obstructing material degradation over time.
This covers all current critical scientific aspects in the field of modern thermoelectrics, ranging from basic research to industrial realization.
Thermoelectric modules convert heat to electricity, or vice versa. This fundamental physical property avoids the use of mechanical parts or working fluids and is thus an excellent alternative to convert solar and waste heat into electricity, as well as for efficient, environmentally friendly and low maintenance cooling systems, and heat-pumps.
A thermoelectric module can operate over a broad temperature range, from sub-room temperature to 1200 K. With its low maintenance, scalability, portability, low-noise operation they provide a viable alternative to tackle the demand for alternative energy solutions and offer unmatched flexibility for local temperature control needed to advance future technology developments.
The thermoelectric module is composed of thermoelectric materials, which determine the conversion efficiency. To realize large scale application of thermoelectric modules, it is necessary to improve the efficiency, reduce degradation and lower the processing cost of the materials. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop new materials where toxic elements are abandoned for abundant non-toxic alternatives.
The Basic and Applied ThermoElectric (BATE) initiative was established at the Department of Physics, UiO in 2007 to tackle these challenges and later expanded to incorporate the University of Stavanger and coworkers at SINTEF Materials and Chemistry in Oslo.
During the last five years, the BATE initiative has built up a solid infrastructure, scientific and technological expertise covering the whole value chain from synthesis of thermoelectric materials, via theoretical and experimental studies of their atomic arrangement and electronic structure at the nanoscale, to measurements and calculations of their Seebeck coefficients and electrical and thermal conductivity in the temperature range from liquid nitrogen to 900 K.
In addition, BATE has applied activity on making and testing thermoelectric heat-pumps for heating of buildings. This activity will now be further strengthened by a nationally coordinated project, THELMA, managed at the Centre for Materials Science and Nanotechnology (SMN) at the University of Oslo.
THELMA is a nationally coordinated project within the NANO2021 program, funded by The Research Council of Norway with a budget in a total of almost 40 million NOK over four years.
The project “Thermoelectric materials: nanostructuring for improving the energy efficiency of thermoelectric generators and heat-pumps” (THELMA) brings together research groups from the universities of Oslo (Dept of Physics and Dept of Chemistry), Trondheim, Agder, and Stavanger, as well from the Norwegian research institutes SINTEF, IFE, and FFI.