EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J000620/1
Title: High Performance Room Temperature Thermoelectric Oxide Materials by Controlling Nanostructure
Principal Investigator: Freer, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Leach, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 04 November 2011 Ends: 03 November 2014 Value (£): 71,314
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Mar 2011 Strategic Japanese-UK Cooperative Program 3rd Call Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Seebeck effect is a thermoelectric effect whereby a temperature gradient across a material is converted to a voltage, which can be exploited for power generation. The growing concern over fossil fuels and carbon emissions has led to detailed reviews of all aspects of energy generation and routes to reduce consumption. Thermoelectric (TE) technology, utilising the direct conversion of waste heat into electric power, has emerged as a serious contender, particular for automotive and transport related applications. Thermoelectric power modules employ multiple pairs of n-type and p-type TE materials. Traditional metallic TE materials (such as Bi2Te3 and PbTe), have been available for 50 years, but are based on toxic materials over which there is increasing environmental concern. Furthermore Te is a rare and increasingly expensive element. In the past decade there has been growing interest in oxide thermoelectrics because their structures and chemistry can be readily modified (to adjust properties), they are stable under a wide variety of operating conditions and have encouraging thermoelectric properties. Whilst oxides are candidates for high temperature applications, they also have considerable potential as "room temperature" thermoelectrics (ambient to 200C) for a range of domestic applications as well as elements in multi-stage high temperature thermoelectric generators.

This investigation is concerned with understanding and improving the thermoelectric properties of Ti based oxide materials having mainly perovskite or spinel structures; targeted applications are for low temperatures (less than 200C). The conversion efficiency of thermoelectric materials is characterised by the figure of merit ZT (where T is temperature); ZT should be as high as possible. To maximise the Z value requires a high Seebeck coefficient (S), coupled with small thermal conductivity and high electrical conductivity. In principle electrical conductivity can be adjusted by changes in cation/anion composition. The greater challenge is to concurrently reduce thermal conductivity. However in oxide ceramics the lattice conductivity dominates thermal transport since phonons are the main carriers of heat. This affords the basis for a range of strategies for reducing heat conduction; essentially microstructural engineering at the nanoscale to increase phonon scattering. The nanostructuring approaches will be: Self Assembly Nanostructures (by spinoidal decomposition), nanoparticles precipitation, and nanonetworks where the grain boundary conductivity is controlled. Independently, thermoelectric enhancement can also be achieved by substitution of dopants to adjust the electrical conductivity. By systematically investigating the effect of different nanostructuring strategies we will be able to understand the mechanisms controlling thermal and electron transport in thermoelectric oxides.

A key feature of the work is that we will adopt an integrated approach, combining the strengths of the UK and Japanese partners to address materials development, exploring nanostructuring strategies, investigating thermoelectric properties as a function of temperature, investigating the structures from the microstructure to the atom level, and preparing test modules from the best materials to evaluate their thermoelectric performance in power modules.

Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk