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Patent
Alphabet Energy, Inc. | Date: 2017-08-09

A thermoelectric generating unit includes a hot-side heat exchanger (HHX) including one or more discrete channels and substantially flat first and second cold-side plates. A first plurality of thermoelectric devices are between the first cold-side plate and a first side of the HHX; and a second plurality of thermoelectric devices can be between the second cold-side plate and a second side of the HHX. Fasteners can extend between the first and second cold- side plates at locations outside of the HHX channel(s). The fasteners can be disposed within gaps between the thermoelectric devices of the first plurality and within gaps between the thermoelectric devices of the second plurality. The fasteners can compress the first plurality of thermoelectric devices between the first cold-side plate and the first side of the HHX and can compress the second plurality of thermoelectric devices between the second cold-side plate and the second side of the HHX.


Patent
Alphabet Energy, Inc. | Date: 2015-10-01

A thermoelectric generating unit includes a hot-side heat exchanger (HHX) including one or more discrete channels and substantially flat first and second cold-side plates. A first plurality of thermoelectric devices are between the first cold-side plate and a first side of the HHX; and a second plurality of thermoelectric devices can be between the second cold-side plate and a second side of the HHX. Fasteners can extend between the first and second cold-side plates at locations outside of the HHX channel(s). The fasteners can be disposed within gaps between the thermoelectric devices of the first plurality and within gaps between the thermoelectric devices of the second plurality. The fasteners can compress the first plurality of thermoelectric devices between the first cold-side plate and the first side of the HHX and can compress the second plurality of thermoelectric devices between the second cold-side plate and the second side of the HHX.


Patent
Alphabet Energy, Inc. | Date: 2015-04-06

Thermoelectric structures include a flexible substrate; a plurality of conductive shunts; and a plurality of thermoelectric legs that are in thermal and electrical communication with the thermoelectric legs via thermal and electrical paths. In some embodiments, the paths are through apertures in the flexible substrate, and the flexible substrate can be substantially out of the thermal and electrical paths. Some embodiments include a circuit board coupled to the flexible substrate, and a bend in the flexible substrate can be disposed between the plurality of conductive shunts and the circuit board. In some embodiments, a plurality of perforations are defined through the flexible substrate and can be configured to rupture responsive to a temperature condition that otherwise would damage one or more of the thermal and electrical paths, said rupture inhibiting such damage. Other embodiments, and methods, are provided.


Patent
Alphabet Energy, Inc. | Date: 2015-04-14

Apparatus and method for generating electricity. The apparatus includes one or more first components configured to extract heat from at least a first fluid flow at a first temperature to one or more devices configured to convert thermal energy to electric energy. The first fluid flow is in a first direction. Additionally, the apparatus includes one or more second components configured to transfer heat from the one or more devices to at least a second fluid flow at a second temperature. The second temperature is lower than the first temperature, and the second fluid flow is in a second direction. Each first part of the first fluid flow corresponds to a first shortest distance to the one or more devices, and the first shortest distance is less than half the square root of the total free flow area for a corresponding first cross-section of the first fluid flow.


A thermoelectric generator includes a tapered inlet manifold including first and second non-parallel sides; first and second pluralities of outlet manifolds; and thermoelectric generating units (TGUs) each including a hot-side heat exchanger (HHX) with inlet and outlet; a cold-side heat exchanger (CHX); and thermoelectric devices arranged between the HHX and CHX. The inlets of some of the HHXs receive exhaust gas from the first side of the tapered inlet manifold and the outlets of those HHXs are coupled to outlet manifolds of the first plurality of outlet manifolds. The inlets of other of the HHXs receive exhaust gas from the second side of the tapered inlet manifold and the outlets of those HHXs are coupled to outlet manifolds of the second plurality of outlet manifolds. The thermoelectric devices can generate electricity responsive to a temperature differential between the exhaust gas and the CHXs.


A matrix with at least one embedded array of nanowires and method thereof. The matrix includes nanowires and one or more fill materials located between the nanowires. Each of the nanowires including a first end and a second end. The nanowires are substantially parallel to each other and are fixed in position relative to each other by the one or more fill materials. Each of the one or more fill materials is associated with a thermal conductivity less than 50 Watts per meter per degree Kelvin. And, the matrix is associated with at least a sublimation temperature and a melting temperature, the sublimation temperature and the melting temperature each being above 350 C.


A method includes preparing a thermoelectric material including p-type or n-type material and first and second caps including transition metal(s). A powder precursor of the first cap can be loaded into a sintering die, punches assembled thereto, and a pre-load applied to form a first pre-pressed structure including a first flat surface. A punch can be removed, a powder precursor of the p-type or n-type material loaded onto that surface, the punch assembled to the die, and a second pre-load applied to form a second pre-pressed structure including a second substantially flat surface. The punch can be removed, a powder precursor of the second cap loaded onto that surface, the first punch assembled to the die, and a third pre-load applied to form a third pre-pressed structure. The third pre-pressed structure can be sintered to form the thermoelectric material; the first or second cap can be coupled to an electrical connector.


Patent
Alphabet Energy, Inc. | Date: 2016-04-01

A thermoelectric device and methods thereof. The thermoelectric device includes nanowires, a contact layer, and a shunt. Each of the nanowires includes a first end and a second end. The contact layer electrically couples the nanowires through at least the first end of each of the nanowires. The shunt is electrically coupled to the contact layer. All of the nanowires are substantially parallel to each other. A first contact resistivity between the first end and the contact layer ranges from 10^(13 )-m^(2 )to 10^(7 )-m^(2). A first work function between the first end and the contact layer is less than 0.8 electron volts. The contact layer is associated with a first thermal resistance ranging from 10^(2 )K/W to 10^(10 )K/W.


Under one aspect, a plurality of silicon nanostructures is provided. Each of the silicon nanostructures includes a length and a cross-section, the cross-section being substantially constant along the length, the length being at least 100 microns. Under another aspect, a method of making nanostructures is provided that includes providing a silicon wafer including a thickness and first and second surfaces separated from one another by the thickness; forming a patterned layer of metal on the first surface of the silicon wafer; generating a current through the thickness of the silicon wafer, the metal oxidizing the silicon wafer in a region beneath the patterned layer of the metal; and exposing the silicon wafer to an etchant in the presence of the current, the etchant removing the oxidized region of the silicon wafer so as to define a plurality of nanostructures. Methods of transferring nanowires also are provided.


Under one aspect, a structure includes a tetrahedrite substrate; a first contact metal layer disposed over and in direct contact with the tetrahedrite substrate; and a second contact metal layer disposed over the first contact metal layer. A thermoelectric device can include such a structure. Under another aspect, a method includes providing a tetrahedrite substrate; disposing a first contact metal layer over and in direct contact with the tetrahedrite substrate; and disposing a second contact metal layer over the first contact metal layer. A method of making a thermoelectric device can include such a method.

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