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Paint Produces Power from Hot Surfaces

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

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Buildings, cars, and ships and other vessels are just a few of the possible applications for a new paint technology.

Researchers from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute have developed a thermoelectric paint that promises to capture the waste heat from hot painted surfaces and convert it into electrical energy.

"For example, the temperature of a building's roof and walls increases to more than 50 degrees Celsius in the summer," study co-author and researcher Jae Song Son told Phys.org. "If we apply thermoelectric paint on the walls, we can convert huge amounts of waste heat into electrical energy."

Professor Son
Photos: Courtesy of UNIST

The paintable liquid material was developed by researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute.

The team recently published its findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Paint that can be used to produce power is not a novel concept; photovoltaic paint or “paint-on solar cells” has been in the works for years. However, this thermoelectric paint technology is different.

Features, Applications

The team’s paint combines bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) with molecular sintering aids and can be applied with a brush to flat or curved surfaces, making possible applications wide ranging.

It differs from conventional thermoelectric materials, which are typically fabricated as flat, rigid chips, Phys.org explains.


This figure shows a comparison of power generation between the conventional planar-structured thermoelectric generator and the painted thermoelectric generator on a curved heat source.

“These devices are then attached to irregular-shaped objects that emit waste heat, such as engines, power plants, and refrigerators,” the report says. “However, the incomplete contact between these curved surfaces and the flat thermoelectric generators results in inevitable heat loss, decreasing the overall efficiency.”

Competitive Results

On the other hand, the new thermoelectric paint can be applied to any heat source, regardless of shape, type and size, said Son. Further, the material tests indicate a high output power density (4 mW/cm2 for in-plane type devices and 26.3 mW/cm2 for through-plane type devices).

Phys.org reports that the results are competitive with conventional thermoelectric materials and better than all thermoelectric devices based on inks and pastes.

“[The paint] will place itself as a new type of new and renewable energy generating system,” said Son.

The study was supported by the R&D Convergence Program of National Research Council of Science & Technology (NST); the Global Frontier Project and New Researcher Support Program by the National Research Foundation (NRF); and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) of South Korea.


Tagged categories: Automotive coatings; Coatings Technology; High-heat coatings; Research and development; Ships and vessels

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