Shiqiang Zou, PhD student of Water INTERface and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has won the first place in poster competition in the Water category of WaterJAM (the Joint Annual Meeting of the Virginia Section American Water Works Association and the Virginia Water Environment Association) held at Norfolk, VA from Sep 11-14th, 2017. Shiqiang’s research is about “Modelling-Assisted Evaluation of Free Heat Recovery from Water via Thermoelectric Generator”.
Water is a safe and locally available energy source considering its temperature is approximately 15°C in winter while the air temperature is around 0°C. Although current heat to electricity conversion efficiency is not high, there is a huge amount of free heat in water. Herein, we propose a functioning thermoelectric generator (TEG) to sustainably harvest free heat in water. TEG modules can transfer the thermal energy difference between hot source (water) and hot sink (air) to all-purpose electricity. The results demonstrate a stable energy output of 0.5 Wh m-3 water via a single TEG module under 3-degree temperature difference. Further mathematical modelling with the two-year water/air temperature data (Christiansburg, VA) reveals that heat recovery via TEG is a net gain, warranting further scaling-up applications.