Psuedo 3D printing of thermoelectric elements in an integrated steel plant

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Engineering


Background/ Overview
A recent report for DECC estimates around one sixth of overall industrial energy used is emitted as waste heat. The report identifies 48 TWh/yr of industrial waste heat sources with 7 TWhr/yr being economically viable for recovery.

The steel industry is one of the UK's largest emitters of waste heat where a typical steel works emits ~20 PJ/yr in its cooling water alone. If say, 25 % of that heat was recoverable, even at 5 % efficiency, savings could be £10Million/year (based on an electricity price of £0.15/kWh). It can be seen therefore, that there is commercial as well as environmental impetus for recovering industrial waste heat, meaning that large area, flexible and printed thermoelectric generators could contribute to reducing demand on the National Grid, to reducing consumption of fossil fuels for power generation and subsequently reduce CO2 emissions.

At Swansea we have recently broken the record for ZT value in a printed thermoelectric material. Our fabrication technique has led to printed thermoelectric elements with ZT = 1.66 which is an astonishing result given that the previous record for a printed thermoelectric material is just ZT = 1.02. These results bring the application of these materials a step closer to realisation. The Research Engineer will research and develop new printed thermoelectric generators based on the architecture of this recent breakthrough. The prototype thermoelectric elements can then be trialled using model rigs, and on-site at an operating steel plant to ascertain the capability of the new thermoelectric devices.

Project Aims
1. Review of literature on printed thermoelectric and identification of sources of waste heat in a typical steel plant.
2. Development of a non-toxic n-type SnSe based material to pair with the already developed p-type material using non-traditional production techniques.
3. Design and fabrication of n- & p-type leg pairs and integration into working prototype devices based on the developed n-type pair material.
4. Integration of prototype modules into custom test rigs, designed to imitate process conditions and environments in the steel plant.
5. Integration of developed modules into existing plant structure at Port Talbot Steel Works.

This is a key challenge area for Tata Steel in Europe and is already the subject of significant work. The Research Engineer will be part of the team in reaching a solution to this problem.

Planned Impact

The CDT will produce 50 graduates with doctoral level knowledge and research skills focussed on the development and manufacture of functional industrial coatings. Key impact areas are:

- The development of new products and processes to address real scientific challenges existing in industry and to transfer this knowledge into partnering companies. The CDT will enable rapid knowledge transfer between academia and industry due to the co-created projects and co-supervision.
- The creation of knowledge sharing network for partner companies created by the environment of the CDT.
- On average 2-3 publications per RE. Publications in high impact factor journals. The scientific scope of the CDT comprises a mixture of interdisciplinary areas and as such a breadth of knowledge can be generated through the CDT. Examples would include Photovoltaic coatings - Journal of Materials Chemistry A (IF 8.867) and Anti-corrosion Coatings - Corrosion Science (IF 5.245), Progress in Organic Coatings (IF 2.903)
- REs will disseminate knowledge at leading conferences e.g. Materials Research Society (MRS), Meetings of the Electrochemical Society, and through trade associations and Institutes representing the coatings sector.
- A bespoke training package on the formulation, function, use, degradation and end of life that will embed the latest research and will be available to industry partners for employees to attend as CPD and for other PGRs demonstrating added value from the CDT environment.

Wealth Creation
- Value added products and processes created through the CDT will generate benefits for Industrial partners and supply chains helping to build a productive nation.
- Employment of graduates into industry will transfer their knowledge and skills into businesses enabling innovation within these companies.
- Swansea University will support potential spin out companies where appropriate through its dedicated EU funded commercialisation project, Agor IP.

Environment and society
- Functionalised surfaces can potentially improve human health through anti-microbial surfaces for health care infrastructure and treatment of water using photocatalytic coatings.
- Functionalised energy generation coatings will contribute towards national strategies regarding clean and secure energy.
- Responsible research and innovation is an overarching theme of the CDT with materials sustainability, ethics, energy and end of life considered throughout the development of new coatings and processes. Thus, REs will be trained to approach all future problems with this mind set.
- Outreach is a critical element of the training programme (for example, a module delivered by the Ri on public engagement) and our REs will have skills that enable the dissemination of their knowledge to wide audiences thus generating interest in science and engineering and the benefits that investments can bring.

- Highly employable doctoral gradates with a holistic knowledge of functional coatings manufacture who can make an immediate impact in industry or academia.
- The REs will have transferable skills that are pertinent across multiple sectors.
- The CDT will develop ethically aware engineers with sustainability embed throughout their training
- The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusivity within our cohorts through CDT and University wide initiatives.
- The development of alumni networks to grow new opportunities for our CDT and provide REs with mentors.


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