Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Large Area Quantum Well Thermoelectric Generator(ST8120-1)

SUNY, The Research Foundation of


More than 30% of the fuel energy used by an engine is lost in the form of hot exhaust gas. Some of this energy can be recovered by a thermoelectric generator (TEG), a solid-state device that produces electricity when one side is heated and the other cooled. NYSERDA has sponsored Clarkson University, SUNY-Albany and Hi-Z Corporation in developing TEG materials and prototypes. A near term goal has been to produce electricity from a vehicle’s exhaust gases, and to use the resulting power to reduce the vehicle’s alternator load enough to produce a 2-5% fuel economy gain. Existing TEGs only convert about 5% of the available heat into electricity, but Hi-Z has achieved 14% efficiency with "quantum well" films made up of a large number (e.g., 1,100) of extremely thin (e.g., 100 Angstrom) alternating layers of material, as compared to traditional use of "bulk" materials. This experimental data aligns with a predictive model that shows efficiencies above 20% can be achieved with further refinement of film materials and geometry. Achieving this performance at low $/Watt will require developing a process for producing quantum well films in large sizes (large area) at high speed. Hi-Z has major funding from federal agencies for TEG development and SUNY-Albany has unique equipment for developing and prototyping thin-layer, large-area semiconductor production processes.

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Project Description

The work entailed: developing a baseline process for making quantum well films of selected materials and producing samples; assembling the materials into elementary TEGs and performing bench tests of TEG efficiency; and, iteration of this sequence to identify optimal materials and processing techniques to enable commercially viable production of high-efficiency thermoelectric generators.


This technology may reduce vehicular fuel consumption by 10% or more, and could provide the basis for new manufacturing enterprises in New York State. This same type of system could be used to improve the efficiency of fuel cells and other devices that emit waste heat.

Project Results

TEG material samples as large as 28.3 square-inches were produced, exceeding the initial goal of 16 square-inches. Complete TEGs could not be fabricated within the limits of project resources, but laboratory evaluation of the material samples was encouraging and has enabled SUNY-Albany and Hi-Z to continue their collaboration with funding from federal sources.


SUNY, The Research Foundation of
P.O. Box 9
Albany, NY 12201

Principle Investigator

Pradeep Haldar

Universities Involved

SUNY at Albany


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Light Duty

NYSERDA Contact Information

Joseph Wagner


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST8120-1

Last Updated: 3/28/2013