The efficient recovery of low-grade waste heat is an important and nontrivial task. Sources of low-grade heat are plentiful everywhere. As a rule, low-grade heat is simply dissipated without any benefit to people. This is caused by the fact that low-grade waste heat is strongly localized near heat sources. Therefore, waste heat is difficult to use in a cost-effective manner for an intended purpose. TEGs are small-sized items that can be placed as close as possible to heat (thermal) energy sources, which can have temperatures of hundreds of degrees Celsius. TEGs can operate anywhere (including indoors) and at any time of the day. These factors are decisive for applying TEGs to recover low-grade heat. Therefore, in practical applications, the TEG’s structure will be exposed to systematic long-term heavy temperature gradients, mechanical stresses (thermo-mechanical stresses), and high temperatures on one (hot) side. TEGs, and hence the thermoelectric materials forming legs of thermopiles, must withstand the above-mentioned shock. To become attractive and affordable to customers, TEGs should have a service life of at least 5000 hrs., with thousands cycles ON-OFF, and, of course, be cheap as well.
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