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In-line thermoelectric module

United States Patent

6,020,671
February 1, 2000
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
U.S. Department of Energy - Visit the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Technology Transfer & Intellectual Property Website
A thermoelectric module with a plurality of electricity generating units each having a first end and a second end, the units being arranged first end to second end along an in-line axis. Each unit includes first and second elements each made of a thermoelectric material, an electrically conductive hot member arranged to heat one side of the first element, and an electrically conductive cold member arranged to cool another side of the first element and to cool one side of the second element. The hot member, the first element, the cold member and the second element are supported in a fixture, are electrically connected respectively to provide an electricity generating unit, and are arranged respectively in positions along the in-line axis. The individual components of each generating unit and the respective generating units are clamped in their in-line positions by a loading bolt at one end of the fixture and a stop wall at the other end of the fixture. The hot members may have a T-shape and the cold members an hourglass shape to facilitate heat transfer. The direction of heat transfer through the hot members may be perpendicular to the direction of heat transfer through the cold members, and both of these heat transfer directions may be perpendicular to the direction of current flow through the module.
Pento; Robert (Algonquin, IL), Marks; James E. (Glenville, NY), Staffanson; Clifford D. (S. Glens Falls, NY)
The United States of America as represented by the United States (Washington, DC)
09/ 122,853
July 28, 1998
TECHNICAL FIELD The present invention relates generally to means for converting thermal energy to electrical energy, and more particularly to an improved structure for a thermoelectric module for converting thermal energy to electrical energy. The Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC12-76-SN00052 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Lockheed Martin Company.