Lesson Plan: Exotic Metals

Thermoelectric Energy Generators could be one of the most promising forms of energy harvesting we’ve been able to perfect this century. The idea of thermoelectric energy generating is not a new concept. The voyager unmanned spacecrafts (Voyager 1 and Voyager 2) use a form of it, using radioisotopes as the heat source. This will allow them to continue their voyage through space until about 2020. Since its launch in 1977 Voyager 1 is currently the farthest known manmade object from the Earth. One current use of TEG’s (Thermoelectric Energy Generators) is for wearable devices. The goal is for these devices to be self-powered and energy saving with a long lifespan. The wearable will use heat energy from the body and the colder environment around the user as a means to generate electricity.

In this lesson students will learn the best materials to be used for TEG’s. Through data analysis of various element’s properties (specifically electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity) students will deduce that TEG’s need a metalloid or some alloy of these for the generators to work most efficiently.

Author: James Lamberth

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