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A novel materials / design approach to thermoelectric coolers


The primary project objective is to establish a viable alternative to vapor compression refrigeration for certain targeted applications by developing a practicable thermoelectric cooling device which is far more cost effective to operate in terms of the thermal, mechanical, and control requirements than existing systems. This will achieved by;
an integrated design/materials approach using recent developments in associated technologies and materials; such as thick film technologies, ceramics and sintering of metal complexes.
the use of bismuth telluride thermoelectric elements with a greater ductility and reduced thermal conductivity
advanced ceramic or ceramic matrix composite substrates for use as integral substrate/heat exchangers with high radiant area (e.g. using a honeycomb configuration) and hence improved heat transfer capabilities.
designing an innovative module configuration, with the aid of 3 D thermodynamic computational modeling, to facilitate improved thermal and overall performance dynamics
an overall system that is far more reflexive and consequently less susceptible to thermal shock failure

Not only will this engender reductions in the number of vapor compression based systems based systems in operation but also allow for significant energy saving (as much as 30%) by obviating the need for large duty cycle requirements necessary to vapor compression systems within the targeted applications.

In view of the nature of the applications and the energy savings and operational advantages that are potentially achievable the project intends to specifically address refrigeration in the following two application;

Liquid chilling } (10% of vapor compression market)
Refrigerated transport } (24% of vapor compression market)
A feasibility study commissioned under the Technical Stimulation for SME's exploratory award has indicated that by using this integrated design approach it is estimated that a 90% reduction in the cost of current thermoelectric systems (thermoelectric elements/module, heat exchangers and power supply) will be achieved, with respect to the overall cost per cooling watt. In order to achieve this it will be necessary to:

Address the problem of manufacture such that modules are an integrated unit (thermoelectric elements/ heat exchangers) and can be produced predominantly through an automated process.
obviate the need for use of highly smoothed power supplies through the development of substantially more ductile materials and design of overall module configuration.

In order to achieve the above a consortium has been formed that contains the optimum mix of industrial companies, research
institutions and end users; 3 SME's, 2 large well established industrial bodies, and 2 respected research institutions. This consortium is envisaged to provide the highest level of research expertise, end use and industrial elements, and exploitation capability.

Call for proposal

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Eltek Semiconductors Ltd.
Nelson road industrial estate
TQ6 9LA Dartmouth
United Kingdom

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EU contribution
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Participants (5)