The present work describes the implementation of a prototype to characterize thermoelectric modules (TEM). The goal is to study the energy conversion by means of thermoelectric modules mounted on concrete structures. The proposed experimental system is used for the electrical characterization of a commercially available thermoelectric module TEC1-12710 to prove its operation while embedded in a concrete slab, typical of building constructions. In this case, the parameters that define thermal energy conversion into electrical energy are open-circuit voltage generation, loaded circuit voltage generation, and load current. A known external load is connected to the terminals of the TEM for the purpose of its electric characterization. An electrical heating element on the hot side and a thermoelectric cooler on the cold side produce a temperature difference on the concrete slab. This arrangement allows the emulation of a temperature gradient produced by sunlight over a concrete structure. The objective is to measure the resulting electrical energy produced by the combination of concrete slab and the thermoelectric module. By controlling the temperature difference between the sides of the thermoelectric module under test, it is possible to simulate the effect of the temperature gradient under different sunlight conditions. Two digital PI controllers regulate the temperature conditions, thus providing controlled conditions for the experiments.
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