Chapter 3 - Harvesting Thermal Energy with Ferroelectric Materials

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Thermal energy is considered the ubiquitous form of energy as all other forms of energy ultimately degrade to thermal energy. Thermal to electrical energy conversion is currently an important method for electricity generation. The traditional power cycles, however, become technically and economically unviable when heat source temperature reduces below 100 °C. Thermal energy harvesting has been proposed as a viable alternative for low-grade thermal to electrical energy conversion. Thermal energy harvesting is a method of generating electricity using temperature-induced variations in material properties. It is particularly useful when the heat sources are available free-of-cost, either in the form of natural heat or waste heat. While there are several thermal energy harvesting techniques, pyroelectricity is the most promising as it can be used in situations where spatial thermal gradients are difficult to establish or the temperature of the heat source is changing. Despite the fact that the pyroelectric effect in ferroelectric materials has been known for past several decades, thermal energy harvesting using ferroelectric materials has not been much explored in the literature. In this chapter, we would explore various aspects of thermal energy harvesting using ferroelectric materials. We have first established the physics behind ferroelectricity, then provided a detailed description on ferroelectric thermal energy harvesting, discussed various ferroelectric thermodynamic cycles and devices proposed in the literature, and finally described various other emerging applications of ferroelectricity.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationFerroelectric Materials for Energy Harvesting and Storage
Subtitle of host publicationWoodhead Publishing Series in Electronic and Optical Materials
EditorsD. Maurya, A. Pramanick, D. Viehland
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-5500-76832


  • energy harvesting
  • ferroelectricity
  • low-grade heat
  • pyroelectric effect


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