Thermoelectric materials, used in thermoelectric generators, can can harvest energy from waste heat even at low temperatures where majority of energy conversion technologies are not usable.
Today’s technologies mostly use inorganic thermoelectric materials, which are usually rigid, toxic for the environment, expensive, non-recyclable and have a low-natural abundance. This hinders their widespread large-scale technological application(s) of inorganic thermoelectrics.
Now, IIT Madras are working on producing polymer-based thermoelectric materials that possess some unique features like mechanical flexibility, low thermal conductivity, wide-availability, low-temperature solution processability in comparison to their inorganic counterpart.
The Rs 3.29-crore project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology. Dr Dillip Satapathy, (the
Principal Investigator) Dr N V Ravi Kumar and Dr R Gopalan are doing this research at IIT-M.
Polymer thermoelectrics offer huge potential for relatively low-cost production in industrial scale. The synthesis of polymeric materials with enhanced energy conversion efficiency for thermoelectric application(s) and fabrication of organic thermoelectric devices are the essence of IIT Madras’ work.