Irreversibilities and efficiency at maximum power of heat engines: The illustrative case of a thermoelectric generator

Y. Apertet, H. Ouerdane, C. Goupil, Ph Lecoeur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Energy conversion efficiency at maximum output power, which embodies the essential characteristics of heat engines, is the main focus of the present work. The so-called Curzon and Ahlborn efficiency η CA is commonly believed to be an absolute reference for real heat engines; however, a different but general expression for the case of stochastic heat engines, η SS, was recently found and then extended to low-dissipation engines. The discrepancy between η CA and η SS is here analyzed considering different irreversibility sources of heat engines, of both internal and external types. To this end, we choose a thermoelectric generator operating in the strong-coupling regime as a physical system to qualitatively and quantitatively study the impact of the nature of irreversibility on the efficiency at maximum output power. In the limit of pure external dissipation, we obtain η CA, while η SS corresponds to the case of pure internal dissipation. A continuous transition between from one extreme to the other, which may be operated by tuning the different sources of irreversibility, also is evidenced.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031116
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Volume85
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

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