Startup founded to pioneer organic thermoelectric generators

March 11, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Otego GbR (Karlsruhe, Germany) was founded in 2014 as a spin-off from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to set up an automated production line for organic thermoelectric generators (TEGs).

The goal is that these TEGs could then be used as an energy supply for wireless sensors and actuators. The technology is based on the roll-to-roll printing of organic thermoelectric materials that can then be folded to produce a cube of thermoelectric material, or other shapes to suit different applications. The company is working on its own formulation of organic semiconductor material.

The founders – Silas Aslan, Federick Lessmann Andre Gall and Mathias Hecht – have brought together low-cost materials and industrial-scale production to produce TEGs for mass-market applications such as the smart home. If wireless sensors and IoT devices such as heating valves can be made self-sufficient in terms of energy it will save on wiring and battery changes.

The company is developing a production machine for the further processing (folding) of films and is being funded for this by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

"We can use different thermoelectric materials. The best commercially available organic semiconductor for thermoelectrics is a PEDOT derivative from Heraeus, but the efficiencies are way under conventional Bi2Te3 (bismuth telluride) TEGs," said Frederick Lessmann in email correspondence with EE Times Europe . PEDOT is a conducting polymer based on the 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene monomer

"That is why we developed a new semiconductor material and currently tune the efficiency," he added. Lessmann declined to provide further details but conceded that the conversion efficiency of the new material would not be above that of Bi2Te3 in the near term.

However, the ability to fold substrates made up of low cost organic materials could provide large areas in small volumes and superior generation capabilities, with the advantage of being made of nontoxic materials that allow for eco-friendly disposal.

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