A bidirectional solar thermoelectric generator combining heat storage for daytime and nighttime power generation

Francisco J. Montero, Ravita Lamba, Alfonso Ortega, Wolfram Jahn, Wei Hsin Chen, Amador M. Guzmán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


A solar thermoelectric generator (STEG) is a promising technology for harvesting solar energy for standalone applications. However, the STEG cannot generate electricity during nighttime due to unavailability of solar energy. The efficiency of thermoelectric generator (TEG) is also low that limits its application areas. This low efficiency can be improved by partially utilizing the waste heat from its cold side using phase change materials (PCMs). Further, the STEG systems operating during day and nighttime are not proposed so far. Therefore, an experimental test rig of a bidirectional (operative in day and night both) STEG coupled with latent heat storage and cooling system (LHSCS) has been developed in this paper. The LHSCS acts as a sink by storing waste heat from the TEG cold side in a phase change material during the daytime and regulates its temperature effectively. During nighttime, LHSCS acts as a heat source for TEG power generation. This proposed bidirectional model aims to provide non-intermittent electricity generation for 24 h. An experimental setup was tested under laboratory conditions and adjusted using a numerical model previously developed in COMSOL Multiphysics software. Once both models are mutually adjusted and verified, the proven numerical model is used to simulate the prototype in the environmental conditions of the Atacama Desert in Chile. The transient effects of solar radiation, ambient temperature and wind speed of the selected location on the hot and cold side temperatures, voltage, power output and efficiency of STEG have been analyzed. A maximum temperature difference of 120 °C is obtained between the TEG hot and cold sides. The experimental results showed TEG efficiency of 5%. The system generated average annual electricity of 5735 Wh. The STEG generated around 0.6 % of the total electricity during the night in the Atacama Desert location. The levelized cost of energy and storage have also been calculated for the proposed system and compared with PV and STEG systems. The LCOE and LCOS of the proposed system are 8850 and 566 USD/MWh respectively. The proposed configuration may provide a reference study for design and development of an efficient and cost-effective STEG coupled LHSCS system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119997
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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