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Research Papers

Evaluation on the Power-Generation Capacity of an Implantable Thermoelectric Generator Driven by Radioisotope Fuel

[+] Author and Article Information
Yang Yang

Key Laboratory of Cryogenics,
Beijing Key Laboratory of Cryo-Biomedical Engineering,
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry,
Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Beijing 100190, China
e-mail: yangy@mail.ipc.ac.cn

Jing Liu

Key Laboratory of Cryogenics,
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry,
Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Beijing 100190, China;
Department of Biomedical Engineering,
School of Medicine,
Tsinghua University,
Beijing 100084, China

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received December 9, 2011; final manuscript received September 17, 2012; published online June 21, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Franz-Josef Kahlen.

J. Heat Transfer 135(7), 071004 (Jun 21, 2013) (8 pages) Paper No: HT-11-1556; doi: 10.1115/1.4024065 History: Received December 09, 2011; Revised September 17, 2012

Embedding a thermoelectric generator (TEG) in a biological body is a promising way to supply electronic power in the long term for an implantable medical device (IMD). The unique merit of such a method lies in its direct utilization of the temperature difference intrinsically existing throughout the whole biological body. Therefore, it can resolve the service life mismatch between the IMD and its battery. In order to promote the stability of the power-generation capacity of the implanted TEG, this paper is dedicated to study a low cost and highly safe practical pattern of implanting a TEG driven by the radioisotope fuel into a human body. Recurring to the thermal energy releasing during disintegration of the radioactive isotope, it can guarantee a marked promotion in the temperature difference across the implanted TEG, consequently supplying enough power for the IMDs. A bioheat transfer model with or without a large vessel is established to characterize the feasibility and working performance of the method. The numerical simulation and parametric studies on tissue status, device properties, and environmental conditions revealed that, no matter in what conditions, the implanted TEG driven by the radioisotope fuel can always offer a much higher energy output than that provided by body heat alone. Meanwhile, in vivo/surrounding environment, isotope conditions, and intentional skin surface cooling also exhibit a direct influence on the temperature distribution of the implantable TEG and thus affect the working performance. Coordinating with the intentionally imposed cooling on the skin surface, the maximum TEG power can reach several mW, which is strong enough to meet the power consumption of the IMDs. These results were expected to be a valuable reference for designing an implantable TEG, which may actually be used in future clinics.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

(a) Simplified three-layer human body tissues with an embedded TEG; (b) sketch of the 3D cubic calculation domain of size 0.08 m × 0.08 m × 0.08 m; and (c) sketch of the radioisotope fuel driving TEG with three-layer block structure

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Fig. 2

(a) Sketch of the TEG position; (b) steady-state temperature distribution on the middle Z-cross section without radioisotope fuel; and (c) steady-state temperature distribution on the middle Z-cross section with radioisotope fuel

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Fig. 3

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; (b) the calculated output voltage of the TEG; and (c) the calculated maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 4

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; (b) the calculated output voltage of the TEG; and (c) the calculated maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 5

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; and (b) the calculated output voltage and maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 6

Steady-state temperature distribution on the middle Z-cross section with radioisotope fuel: (a) position x = 0.038 m; and (b) position x = 0.072 m

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Fig. 7

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; (b) the calculated output voltage of the TEG; and (c) the calculated maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 8

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; and (b) the calculated output voltage and maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 9

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; and (b) the calculated output voltage and maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 10

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; and (b) the calculated output voltage and maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 11

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; and (b) the calculated maximum power of the TEG

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Fig. 12

(a) The temperature difference crossing the TEG; (b) the calculated output voltage of the TEG; and (c) the calculated maximum power of the TEG

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