Scientists develop lead-free material for converting heat into electricity

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 23, 2021

Scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, have developed a new lead-free material that can convert waste heat to power home appliances and automobiles.

The new material, called Cadmium (Cd) doped Silver Antimony Telluride (AgSbTe2), can efficiently allow recovery of electricity from waste heat, marking a paradigm shift in the thermoelectric puzzle, the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement.

A team led by Professor Kanishka Biswas at JNCASR, which is overseen by the Department of Science and Technology, internally introduced Silver Antimony Telluride with Cadmium to develop the material for thermoelectric energy conversion. The scientists have reported this breakthrough in the journal Science.

Thermoelectric energy conversion allows generation of electrical voltage when one end of a material is heated while keeping the other side cold. Finding an efficient material to realise this scientific principle has been a daunting task for scientists. It entails fitting in three seemingly different properties into a single material — high electrical conductivity of metals, high thermoelectric sensitivity of semiconductors, and low thermal conductivity of glasses.

Most efficient thermoelectric materials developed by scientists so far have used lead as a major constituent element, restricting their use for mass-market applications.

Biswas is now trying to commercialise the new material in collaboration with Tata Steel, whose steel power plant generates substantial waste heat, the statement said.

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Published on February 23, 2021
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