Peltier Devices: Thermoelectric Coolers and Power Generators
Thermoelectric couples are solid-state devices capable of generating electrical power from a temperature gradient, known as the Seebeck effect, or converting electrical energy into a temperature gradient, known as the Peltier effect.
A typical thermoelectric cooler (TEC) module is composed of two ceramic substrates that serve as a housing and electrical insulation for P-type and N-type (typically Bismuth Telluride) elements between the substrates. Heat is absorbed at the cold junction by electrons as they pass from a low energy level in the p-type element, to a higher energy level in the n-type element. At the hot junction, energy is expelled to a thermal sink as electrons move from a high energy element to a lower energy element. A module contains several P-N couples that are connected electrically in series and thermally in parallel. Using the reverse process, a thermoelectric power generator (TEG) can convert a heat flux or temperature difference into electrical energy.
To assist the thermal designer in modeling Peltier modules (thermoelectric generators or coolers), CRTech's tool suite provides built-in routines for modeling modules using either standard Bismuth Telluride propoerties or alternative semiconductor materials. The family of TEC and TEG tools provide the designer the ability to model single stage or multi-stage devices, and calculate valuable sizing information regarding thermoelectric performance. Our unique system-level approach for modeling single and multi-stage coolers captures the system-level performance of the module along with the effect of the module on the host system. Detailed geometric modeling of the all the individual elements (P-N couples) is not required resulting is fast run times. Modeling options are available to perform parametric modeling, sensitivity studies, and design optimization. For thermoeletric coolers, multiple sensing and control methods are available. For advanced devices, you may choose to provide inputs at the leg level rather than the couple level such that P and N legs can have unique shapes or materials.
Thermal Desktop® Model of a Thermoelectric Cooler
Single-stage Curved Module using FE Methods
Example of a Two-Stage Cooler using Matched Meshing Methods in TD Direct
- Publication: Modeling and Sizing a Thermoelectric Cooler within a Thermal Analyzer, J. Baumann (Aerospace Thermal Control Workshop 2006)
- Recorded Video: Modeling Thermoelectric Coolers in Thermal Desktop
- AZTEC Thermoelectric Simulation Software from Larid
- For more information on the theory and design of thermoelectric devices, please visit Peltier Device Information Directory