‘Waste heat recovery’ is a phenomenon
gaining traction across multiple verticals to rightfully capitalize the wastage
of heat energy. The expedition to capture the unexploited thermal energy and
convert it into an electrical form to power applications in sectors such as
automotive, aerospace & defense, and power plants has propelled the global Thermoelectric Generator Market demand. The transition of the automotive sector
towards alternative fuels in the form of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles
is a major factor influencing the market demand. Moreover, substantial traction
is witnessed in the market owing to the implementation of TEG in various industrial
verticals such as the flourishing energy and power, and lucrative oil and gas sector.
Apart from implementing thermoelectric generator as a tool for ‘energy
conservation, industrial space are employing thermoelectric generator as ‘backup
power source’. For instance, Gentherm Global Power Technologies (GPT) has employed
a Hybrid Solar-TEG solutions TEG as a standby for the Solar-PV, and a backup power
source in situations when the solar panel is down and the backup battery goes
into deep discharge. Other
prominent applications of thermoelectric generator includes, assisting wireless
sensors for monitoring operations in commercial and military aircraft, and fuelling
space rovers equipped with radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG), since solar
power is inadequate due positioning of the
rover in space. As the TEG has no moving gears involved in the conversion of
thermal energy to electrical, it diminishes outlays for maintenance, have fundamental
high reliability, and can be implemented to manufacture generators with prolonged
sustainability. This delivers thermoelectric generators a front suitable for
equipment with minimal power necessities in isolated and uninhabited or unapproachable
sites such as mountain tops, the vacuum of space, or the deep ocean. As a consequence,
the global thermoelectric generator market size is evaluated to be $421.2
million as of 2018. And with lucrative transition as an apparatus from a mere
energy conversion tool to a tool assisting limited source of power, opportunities
in the market is progressing at a global CAGR of 12.2% during the forecast
period of 2019-2025.
Rampant Employment of Hybrid Vehicles Delivering Ample Opportunities in Thermoelectric Generator Market:
The flourishing automotive sector witnessing a transition towards hybrid vehicles as an extended front, is a standing out as a mega employer of TEGs. Following the principles of ‘Seebeck Effect’, an automotive thermoelectric generator (ATEG) translates the heat wasted by the ICE (internal combustion engine) into electricity that can be utilized as a fuel by hybrid vehicles. As an effective replacement for alternators and offering an enhanced fuel efficiency standards, TEGs are being rampantly employed by the hybrid vehicles OEMs. As consequence, increasing sales of hybrid vehicles is a major factor adding impetus to the global thermoelectric generator market demand. According to the United States Department of Transportation, the sales of hybrid electric vehicles in the U.S increased from a mere 17 units in 1999 to an astounding 370,685 units in 2017. Similarly, analyzing the global development, International Energy Agency indicated the number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars surpassed 3 million in 2017 that was a considerable 54% increase compared with the preceding year. Hence, such developments in the automotive sector legitimately indicates the opportunities of application for TEGs.
Aerospace & Defense Technology Leveraging ‘Heat Flux’ in its Operating Environment by
Employing Thermoelectric Generator:
· TGE – An Economical Structural Monitoring Asset for the Aviation Sector-
Wireless sensors designed for condition, environment, and structural monitoring, powered by TEGs find application in commercial and military aircraft. The thermoelectric module powers sensors by take advantage of temperature dissimilarities occurring between the turbine engine bearings and ambient air (heat flux). As the TGEs are minimal in terms of size and are economical in terms of maintenance, the flourishing aerospace and defense sector are sourcing extensive scope of application, adding impetus to the thermoelectric generator market demand. For instance, Lockheed Martin Corporation developed a predictive maintenance system with wireless sensors and TGE as principal constituents, for an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that supports alignment with their Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS). Similarly, depicting the opportunities from the commercial aircraft sector, in 2018 commercial airlines got delivered with over 1,780 new aircraft. By the end of 2019, commercial airline sector is forecast to expand by 1000 units, quantifying the total fleet to 31,000 globally, which eventually will positively influence the global thermoelectric generator market size.
· Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators – Principal Source of Power in Space-
Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG) amalgamated with an energy storage device such as a rechargeable battery or supercapacitor, deliver the desired peculiarities to power space rovers. Being able to leverage the temperature difference between the nuclear material and cold space, RTG is finds tremendous scope of application in the space exploration programs. For example, in Curiosity, a rover created by NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory to explore the Gale Crater on Mars, operating since 2011, RTG powered by plutonium-238 (radioactive isotope of plutonium) is used operates the rover’s arm, instruments, wheels, computers, and radio. Hence, a competitive exercise surfacing economies globally with huge investments to explore space and establish inter-planet colonies is a major growth driver of the thermoelectric generator market. Way back in 2013, the United States, allocated a humongous $39.3 billion for its space exploration programs and in 2019 NASA is allocated a humongous $21.5 billion by the U.S government.
Hence North America, with the United States as principal region with impeccable thermoelectric generator adoption in various end-user verticals mentioned above, leads the global demand with a share of 35.5% as of 2018.
Application of TGE in Industrial Plants Located “Off-Grid”:
After an acute analysis of various end-user verticals, industrial application segment is estimated to be fastest growing vertical progressing with an application CAGR of 14.4% going through 2025. Profitability of any industry relies operational efficacy at each individual refinery and plant. For instance, in the oil and gas sector, thermoelectric generators are observing escalating implementation in plants and refineries, due to its heat recycling property. As a consequence, thermoelectric generators are gaining acceptance as an approaching clean and green energy technology, since it convert waste heat (zero cost) into electrical energy, diminishing the principal industrial cost of raw electric energy. Often wellheads and pipelines are positioned “off grid,” with no access to the necessary electrical power. In such circumstances, TGEs are the most dependable power generator as it can operate under diverse climatic settings without battery backup. Solar Photovoltaic systems fails to be a suitable solution where solar radiation is low, i.e. areas at higher latitudes no sunshine, such as a tree canopy cover or dusty deserts.
TGE – An Energy Harvesting Tool-
Energy harvesting is a technique of producing electrical energy from the unexploited energy sources accessible in the adjacent environment. In 2017, JikoPower Inc, an American manufacturer, manufactured a mobile and convenient hand-held thermoelectric generator equipped with thermoelectric chips that converts excess heat from any cook stove or fire into useable electricity to charge cellphones, LEDs, and radios, in areas devoid of electricity. Similar technology is being employed by wearable devices researchers, to utilize the heat generated from the human body to charge the device.
Thermoelectric Generator Market Companies:
Some of the key players employed in the global market are Gentherm Inc., II-VI Marlow, Inc, Ferrotec Corporation, Laird plc, KELK Ltd., Yamaha Corp., and Evident Thermoelectrics.
Innovation is paramount to survive in the thermoelectric generator marketplace. Consequently, companies are investing on R&D activities to carve a niche for themselves. For example, in 2017 Yamaha Corp., after detecting the lucrative opportunities of thermoelectric generator in vehicles, partnered with the Institute of Vehicle Concepts at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt, DLR) to develop prototype thermoelectric generator modules for on-road and rail vehicles.
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