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Research Papers

Performance and Design Comparison of a Bulk Thermoelectric Cooler With a Hybrid Architecture

[+] Author and Article Information
Margaret Antonik

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
North Carolina State University,
911 Oval Drive,
Raleigh, NC 27695
e-mail: mrantoni@ncsu.edu

Brendan T. O'Connor

Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
North Carolina State University,
911 Oval Drive,
Raleigh, NC 27695
e-mail: btoconno@ncsu.edu

Scott Ferguson

Associate Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
North Carolina State University,
911 Oval Drive,
Raleigh, NC 27695
e-mail: scott_ferguson@ncsu.edu

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received August 11, 2015; final manuscript received December 18, 2015; published online March 1, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Samuel Sami.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 8(2), 021022 (Mar 01, 2016) (13 pages) Paper No: TSEA-15-1214; doi: 10.1115/1.4032637 History: Received August 11, 2015; Revised December 18, 2015

This paper compares the economic viability and performance outcomes of two different thermoelectric device architectures to determine the advantages and appropriate use of each configuration. Hybrid thermoelectric coolers (TECs) employ thin-film thermoelectric materials sandwiched between a plastic substrate and form a corrugated structure. Roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing and low-cost polymer materials offer a cost advantage to the hybrid architecture at the sacrifice of performance capabilities while conventional bulk devices offer increased performance at a higher cost. Performance characteristics and cost information are developed for both hybrid and conventional bulk single-stage thermoelectric modules. The design variables include device geometry, electrical current input, and thermoelectric material type. The tradeoffs between cooling performance and cost will be explored, and the thermoelectric system configuration is analyzed for both hybrid and conventional bulk TECs.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Illustrations of (a) printing pattern of material on substrate, (b) hybrid TEC after processing into final form, and (c) bulk TEC

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Fig. 2

Basic diagram of a TEC and the equivalent thermal resistance circuit of the system

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Fig. 3

Breakdown of the total cost of a TEC system

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Fig. 4

Pareto frontiers for maximum cooling capacity and minimum cost

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Fig. 5

Pareto frontier using bulk materials for the hybrid architecture

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Fig. 6

Design variable trends for bulk architecture (color bar represents variable value)

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Fig. 7

Design variable trends for hybrid architecture (color bar represents variable value)

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Fig. 8

Pareto frontiers for improved hypothetical TE materials in a bulk TEC

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Fig. 9

(a) Minimum cross-sectional area to produce a given QC and (b) corresponding number of thermocouples of the bulk architecture, and (c) minimum cross-sectional area to produce a given QC and (d) corresponding number of thermocouples of the hybrid architecture

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Fig. 10

(a) Minimal capital cost at a given QC for bulk and hybrid architectures, (b) the operating cost, (c) the number of thermocouples, and (d) the heat exchanger characteristic

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Fig. 11

Breakdown of capital cost for (a) bulk and (b) hybrid architectures

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Fig. 12

Minimized operating cost under different cross-sectional area constraints

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