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Superconducting thermoelectric generator

United States Patent

5,747,418
May 5, 1998
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Savannah River National Laboratory - Visit the Technology Transfer Website
An apparatus and method for producing electricity from heat. The present invention is a thermoelectric generator that uses materials with substantially no electrical resistance, often called superconductors, to efficiently convert heat into electrical energy without resistive losses. Preferably, an array of superconducting elements is encased within a second material with a high thermal conductivity. The second material is preferably a semiconductor. Alternatively, the superconducting material can be doped on a base semiconducting material, or the superconducting material and the semiconducting material can exist as alternating, interleaved layers of waferlike materials. A temperature gradient imposed across the boundary of the two materials establishes an electrical potential related to the magnitude of the temperature gradient. The superconducting material carries the resulting electrical current at zero resistivity, thereby eliminating resistive losses. The elimination of resistive losses significantly increases the conversion efficiency of the thermoelectric device.
Metzger; John D. (Eaton's Neck, NY), El-Genk; Mohamed S. (Albuquerque, NM)
The United States of America as represented by the United States (Washington, DC)
08/ 732,945
October 17, 1996
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC09-89SR18035 between the U.S. Department of Energy and Westinghouse Savannah River Company.