The motivation of thermoelectric research and funding is the desire to exploit technical heat flows with maximum efficiency or to make use of natural heat sources by thermoelectric generators. The drawback of their low efficiency does not matter in all cases, where more efficient conversion methods are not applicable. As an advantage, thermoelectric generators have no movable parts, they can be shaped as needed and maintenance is hardly required.
A widespread misunderstanding is the use of thermoelectric generators as additional heat converter in combustion engines. As the primary process is dependent on heat flow, additional power of thermoelectric generators cannot compensate the loss of efficiency in the primary process. In many cases, the appropriate use remains a technical challenge.
While the thermoelectric community has more and more focused on the preparation of materials with high thermoelectric efficiency, a fundamental problem has remained unsolved in many cases: The soldering of electrical contacts, in particular at the hot junction. Due to its importance for application, this kind of research is usually unpublished. But generally, wires of high-melting metals such as W, Re or Mo are used, or, for example in Cassini spacecraft complex contacting layers with increasing amounts of dopants.