The use of biomass cook stoves is widespread in the domestic sector of developing countries, but the stoves are not efficient. To advance the versatility of the cook stove, we investigated the feasibility of adding a commercial thermoelectric (TE) module made of bismuth-telluride based materials to the stove’s side wall, thereby creating a thermoelectric generator system that utilizes a proportion of the stove’s waste heat. The system, a biomass cook stove thermoelectric generator (BITE), consists of a commercial TE module (Taihuaxing model TEP1-1264–3.4), a metal sheet wall which acts as one side of the stove’s structure and serves as the hot side of the TE module, and a rectangular fin heat sink at the cold side of the TE module. An experimental set-up was built to evaluate the conversion efficiency at various temperature ranges. The experimental set-up revealed that the electrical power output and the conversion efficiency depended on the temperature difference between the cold and hot sides of the TE module. At a temperature difference of approximately 150 °C, the unit achieved a power output of 2.4 W. The conversion efficiency of 3.2% was enough to drive a low power incandescent light bulb or a small portable radio. A theoretical model approximated the power output at low temperature ranges. An economic analysis indicated that the payback period tends to be very short when compared with the cost of the same power supplied by batteries. Therefore, the generator design formulated here could be used in the domestic sector. The system is not intended to compete with primary power sources but serves adequately as an emergency or backup source of power.
Bioresource Technology – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2007
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