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Pyroelectric waste heat energy harvesting using relaxor ferroelectric 8/65/35 PLZT and the Olsen cycle


Waste heat can be directly converted into electrical energy by performing the Olsen cycle on pyroelectric materials. The Olsen cycle consists of two isothermal and two isoelectric field processes in the electric displacement versus electric field diagram. This paper reports on the electrical energy generated by lanthanum-doped lead zirconate titanate (8/65/35 PLZT) subjected to the Olsen cycle. The material was alternately dipped into a cold and a hot silicone oil bath under specified electric fields. A maximum energy density of 888 J l-1/cycle was obtained with a 290 µm thick 8/65/35 PLZT sample for temperatures between 25 and 160?°C and electric fields cycled between 0.2 and 7.5 MV m-1. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest pyroelectric energy density experimentally measured with multiple cycles. It corresponded to a power density of 15.8 W l-1. The electrical breakdown strength and therefore the energy and power densities of the material increased as the sample thickness was reduced from 720 to 290 µm. Furthermore, a physical model for estimating the energy harvested by ferroelectric relaxors was further validated against experimental data for a wide range of electric fields and temperatures.