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News

UK Thermoelectric Network (TEMPEST) set up to exploit UK strengths in nanotechnology

Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) : 31 January, 2014  (Special Report)
The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network announces its support for the first UK Thermoelectric Network – TEMPEST, funded through the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
UK Thermoelectric Network (TEMPEST) set up to exploit UK strengths in nanotechnology
Set up by The University of Manchester and European Thermodynamics Ltd, the launch event takes place on 26 February 2014 in Manchester with a focus on state-of-the-art and challenges in thermoelectric materials and their applications. 
 
Thermoelectric materials convert thermal energy into electrical voltage and vice versa, and hence can be used for harvesting waste heat. The TEMPEST Network will serve as a focal point by bringing together individuals in different disciplines to define and address the considerable research challenges presented in realising the potential offered by thermoelectrics.
 
The initial membership of the Network will include 13 universities (representing Physics, Chemistry, Materials and Engineering disciplines), the National Physical Laboratory, seven industrial partners covering all aspects of the Thermoelectric module design and manufacture supply chain, plus a large number of end users. In total over 32 individual organisations will be represented.
 
The NanoKTN has been exploring the potential for UK commercialisation of nano-enabled thermoelectrics - initially for energy harvesting – and ran a very successful workshop at the Institute of Physics. As a result of this workshop, a position paper entitled “Why the UK Should Invest in Thermoelectrics & the Role of Nanotechnology - a Position Paper” was developed to advise government. The Paper recommended that a UK network be set up with a ‘UK Roadmap’ for the development of thermoelectric materials and systems with UK government research funding initiating new research programmes to develop materials, devices and systems that meet existing industrial and commercial needs in thermoelectricity.
 
Dr Martin Kemp, Theme Manager at the NanoKTN commented, “Thermoelectrics offers significant opportunities for UK growth. A number of new market opportunities will open up if a new generation of higher efficiency and more sustainable materials/devices can be developed such as in harvesting, automotive and HGV exhaust heat, solar thermal energy, high temperature industrial processes, and self-powered sensors.”
 
“The UK has key strengths in the depth of its academic expertise in thermoelectrics, in particular in nano and micro technologies which offer a new paradigm in materials design and construction - the nano dimension seen as being key to optimising the design of improved thermoelectric materials. The UK also has specialist facilities for materials analysis such as STFC (ISIS) Harwell and the National Physical Laboratory, the ability to manufacture nanoparticulates on a commercial scale and a strong commercial base of end-users. We believe, that working together, the members of the TEMPEST network will be able to address the considerable research challenges presented in realising the potential offered by thermoelectrics and deliver significant commercial growth opportunities for the UK.”
 
For further information about the event email Robert.Freer@manchester.ac.uk.
 
 
Thermoelectric (TE) Devices are solid-state systems of semiconductors capable of either converting heat into electrical energy or using electricity to pump or dissipate heat (heating and cooling effect respectively). The interaction between electricity and heat in TE systems can be described by three fundamental thermoelectric effects: the Seebeck effect, the Peltier effect and the Thomson effect.
 
The first two of these depend on effects which arise in circuits containing two dissimilar metals, while the Thomson effect can be observed in a single-material system: when a temperature difference is applied at the same time as an electric current on a material, heat will either be removed from the material or absorbed by it.
 
The UK has key strengths in the depth of its academic expertise in thermoelectrics, in particular in nano and micro technologies which offer a new paradigm in materials design and construction - the nano dimension seen as being key to optimising the design of improved thermoelectric materials. The UK also has specialist facilities for materials analysis such as STFC (ISIS) Harwell and the National Physical Laboratory, the ability to manufacture nanoparticulates on a commercial scale and a strong commercial base of end-users. 
 
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