An Online Remote Verification System of Thermal Sources for Energy Harvesting Application

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Several thermoelectric energy harvesting applications have been introduced recently showing an increasing interest in thermoelectric energy, mainly using Thermoelectric Generators (TEGs) that convert heat directly into electrical energy. Some examples of thermoelectric energy harvesting applications are in Human Body, Wearable Devices, Aircraft. However, several studies and development steps are previously needed to build a complete thermal harvester, to prove whether it can generate a useful amount of energy. In this context, a way to early verify the potential of a possible thermal source before building the thermal harvester is needed to save either time or funding resources. In this paper, a complete system to verify the capabilities of thermal sources before building the final thermal harvester is presented. The proposed system runs a procedure of simultaneous sampling and emulating thermal gradients, that is, while the temperature gradient of the thermal source under test (TSUV) is sampled, the system emulates this gradient and applies it on a TEG, which can predict the potential of the TSUV. Also, using LoRa-based wireless connectivity, the proposed system operates remotely meaning that the temperature gradient sampling process can be far away from the temperature gradient emulation process, allowing to evaluate thermal sources in very hard spots, for instance, inside building structures or faraway pipelines. Experimental results show the emulation of two potential thermal sources, namely, tree trunks and the back surface of the photovoltaic modules.

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IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement



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