Energy, Vol.179, 12-18, 2019
Flexible heatsink based on a phase-change material for a wearable thermoelectric generator
Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) represent a promising technology for self-powered wearable systems. Since the conventional TEGs have limitation to be used on the human body due to its structural rigidity, flexible TEGs have been studied and developed so that TEGs can be attached to an arbitrarily shaped surface on the human body. However, flexible TEGs require a good heatsink with good flexibility to allow them to produce enough power for wearable devices. In this study, a high-performance flexible heatsink based on a phase-change material (PCM) was proposed. PCM blocks were arranged in an array and good flexibility was realized with an elastomer that filled the space between the PCM blocks. Given that PCM can absorb a large amount of heat at the phase-change temperature, the heatsink can hold the temperature difference across the TEG constant for a relatively long period of time. Thus, the generated power from the flexible TEG was maintained at around 20 mu W/cm(2) for 33 min. The flexible heatsink can be reused because the PCM solidifies at room temperature. Furthermore, the PCM-based flexible heatsink is smaller and lighter than the conventional metal heatsink. The proposed heatsink is expected to contribute to the commercialization of self-powered wearable devices. (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.