Research Papers: Electronic Cooling

Convective Heat Transfer and Contact Resistances Effects on Performance of Conventional and Composite Thermoelectric Devices

[+] Author and Article Information
B. V. K. Reddy

Department of Mechanical Engineering and
Materials Science,
University of Pittsburgh,
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
e-mail: bvkreddy680@gmail.com

Matthew Barry

Department of Mechanical Engineering and
Materials Science,
University of Pittsburgh,
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
e-mail: mmb49@pitt.edu

John Li

Adjunct Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering and
Materials Science,
University of Pittsburgh,
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
e-mail: johnli407@yahoo.com

Minking K. Chyu

Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering and
Materials Science,
University of Pittsburgh,
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
e-mail: mkchyu@pitt.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received May 2, 2013; final manuscript received July 3, 2014; published online August 5, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Wilson K. S. Chiu.

J. Heat Transfer 136(10), 101401 (Aug 05, 2014) (11 pages) Paper No: HT-13-1227; doi: 10.1115/1.4028021 History: Received May 02, 2013; Revised July 03, 2014

The performance of Π shaped conventional and composite thermoelectric devices (TEDs) applied to waste heat recovery by taking the Fourier heat conduction, Joule heating, and the Peltier and Thomson effects in TE materials is investigated using analytical solutions. The TE legs built with semiconductor materials bonded onto a highly conductive interconnector material in a segmented fashion is treated as the composite TED, whereas the legs merely made from semiconductors is treated as the conventional TED. The top and bottom surfaces of TEDs are subjected to convective heat transfer conditions while the remaining surfaces exposed to ambient are kept adiabatic. The effects of contact resistances, convective heat transfer coefficients, and TE leg heights L on TEDs' performance are studied. An increase in electrical and/or thermal contact resistance and a decrease in heat transfer coefficients are resulted in a decrease in power output P0 and conversion efficiency η. Depending on the contact resistances and convective heat transfer loads, the optimum L where a maximum Po occurs is obtained typically in the range of 1–4 mm. For TE leg size greater than optimum L and TED operating under higher convective heat transfer conditions, the composite design exhibited better power output and lower conversion efficiency compared to conventional design. The effects of interconnector lengths and cross-sectional area on the composite TED's characteristics are also investigated. An increase in a length and a decrease in a cross-sectional area of the interconnector decreases the composite TED's performance. However, based on the increase of the interconnector's electrical resistance in relation to the device's total internal resistance, the composite TED exhibited both negligible and significant change behavior in P0.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Schematics of (a) conventional and composite TEDs with (b) constant and (c) variable cross-sectional area interconnectors

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Fig. 2

Thermal and electrical resistance networks of (a) conventional and composite TE leg with (b) constant and (c) variable cross-sectional area interconnectors

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Fig. 3

Thermal interface conditions

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Fig. 4

The comparison of present model results with numerical simulations P0,max of conventional TED for different (a) thermal and (b) electrical contact resistance values

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Fig. 9

Influence of interconnector size on the performance of composite TEDs for various leg heights

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Fig. 8

The thermoelectric performance of composite TED for various semiconductor slice thickness and convective heat transfer coefficient values

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Fig. 7

Effects of hot and cold side convective heat transfer coefficients on conventional TED's (a) hot junction temperature, (b) cold junction temperature, (c) temperature difference, (d) total internal resistance, (e) power output, and (f) thermal efficiency

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Fig. 6

The response of conventional TED's (a) power output and (b) efficiency for different electrical and thermal contact resistances and TE leg heights

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Fig. 5

The response of conventional TED's (a) internal resistance (b) junctions temperature difference and (c) heat input for different electrical and thermal contact resistances and TE leg heights




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