# ISSN 1843-6188

Scientific Bulletin of the Electrical Engineering Faculty – Year 10 No. 1 (12)

ELECTRO-THERMAL ANALYSIS OF PELTIER COOLING USING FEM
D. ENESCU1, E.O. VÎRJOGHE2, M. IONEL1, M.F. STAN2
Electronic, Telecommunications and Energetics Department Automatics, Informatics and Electrical Engineering Department Valahia University of Targoviste, Electrical Engineering Faculty 18-20 Unirii Ave., 130082 E-mail: denescu@valahia.ro
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Abstract: Peltier technology has been the subject of major advances in recent years, due to the development of semiconductors and the incorporation of the thermoelectric devices into domestic appliances. According to the environmental problems produced by chlorofluorocarbons, the development of equipment based on the Peltier technology increased in the last years. Thermoelectric systems are used for measurement techniques and in other devices where a highprecision temperature control is essential (thermocouples and thermopiles), for Peltier cooling (Peltier elements for CPU cooling, refrigeration, temperature stabilization) and direct energy conversion of heat (thermoelectric generators, driven by waste heat, radioactive decay, combustion). In this paper an implementation of thermoelectric effects in ANSYS Multiphysics is described. The authors present a computational model which simulates thermal and electric performance of a thermoelectric cooling device based on thermoelectric technology. The finite element method (FEM) is used here in order to solve the system of thermoelectric equations providing values for temperature distribution, thermal flux, temperature gradient, and voltage distribution. Keywords: thermoelectric cooler, Peltier elements, Seebeck effect, finite element method FEM, thermal gradient, thermal flux, voltage distribution.

figure of merit (ZT), where T is the temperature of interest. Therefore, equation (1) can be rewritten as:

ZT =

α 2 ⋅σ ⋅T
k

(2)

1. INTRODUCTION Generally, if a thermal gradient is applied to a solid, it will always be accompanied by an electric field in the opposite direction. This process is called as the thermoelectric effect (TE). Thermoelectric material applications include refrigeration or electric power generation. The efficiency of a thermoelectric material is given by the figure of merit, Z, which is defined as [1]:
Z=

α 2 ⋅σ ⎡ 1 ⎤
k ,⎢ ⎥ ⎣K ⎦

(1)

An important point it is represented by achieving a high value of ZT, this being carried out by increasing the power factor (α2σ) and decreasing the thermal conductivity (k). One of the main applications of thermoelectrics is for refrigeration purposes. An electrical current applied across a material will cause a temperature differential which can be used for cooling. As it is known, metals are poor thermoelectric materials because they have a low Seebeck coefficient and large electron contribution to thermal conductivity k, so electrical conductivity σ and thermal conductivity k will cancel each other out. A low thermoelectric effect is carried out by insulators which have a high Seebeck coefficient and small electron contribution to thermal conductivity, so their charge density and electrical conductivity are low. The best thermoelectric materials are between metals and insulators (i.e., semiconductors) [1]. The thermoelectric materials of choice for the steadystate simulations illustrated in this paper on a thermoelectric element Peltier cooler are BismuthTellurium (Bi-Te) and Lead-Tellurium (Pb-Te). They have a high Seebeck coefficient α, a good electric conductivity σ, and a poor thermal conductivity k. This paper presents the finite element formulation, which, in addition to Joule heating, includes Seebeck, Peltier and Thomson effects. An implementation of thermoelectric effects in ANSYS Multiphysics is described in the next sections. Numerical results and their interpretation are provided and compared with other literature results. 2. THERMOELECTRIC COOLER MODELING 2.1 Thermoelectric Cooler The basic unit of a thermoelectric (TE) cooler is composed of two semiconductor elements connected at a copper strap as shown in Figure 1. It consists of an n-type and a p-type thermoelement connected electrically in series by a conducting strap.

where: α – material's Seebeck coefficient, V/K, σ – electrical conductivity of material, S/m, k – thermal conductivity of material, W/(m.K). The numerator α 2 ⋅ σ in equation 1 is called the power factor. Therefore, the most useful method in order to describe and compare the quality and thermoelectric efficiency of different material systems is the dimensionless

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S/m. s. the n-type and ptype elements have a length 3.represents the grad operator.electrical conductivity matrix. 90 {q}. A/m .5 mm. K/m. it results: (3) (4) The velocity vector for mass transport of heat is zero. and apply various types of loading and boundary conditions. The coupled thermoelectric equations are [3].thermal gradient. (8) it results: ⎛ ∂T ∂T ∂T ∂T ⎞ ⎟ = &&& + + vx + vy + vz q ∂x ∂y ∂z ⎟ ⎝ ∂t ⎠ ∂ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ ∂ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ ∂ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ ⎟ + ⎜ kz + ⎜ kx ⎟ + ⎜ky ⎟ ∂x ⎝ ∂x ⎠ ∂y ⎜ ∂y ⎟ ∂z ⎝ ∂z ⎠ ⎝ ⎠ ρc⎜ ⎜ (9) {q}= [Π ]{J }− [k ]{∇T } {J }= [σ ]({E}− [α ]{∇T }) Replacing [Π ] with T [α ] in eq.heat flux vector. [α ] . in order to obtain the general equation of thermal conduction. kg/m3. and the element width is 2. ρc (5) {q}= T [α ]{J }− [k ]{∇T } where: [Π ] = T [α ] . The general equation of heat flow used in the thermoelectric analysis is given by: ρc ⎜ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ + {v}T ∇T ⎟ + ∇ ⋅ {q} = &&& q ∂t ⎝ ⎠ (6) where: ρ – density. V.3.K).electric current density.K ∂T ∂ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ ∂ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ ∂ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ ⎟ + ⎜ kz = &&& + ⎜ k x q ⎟ + ⎜ ky ⎟ ∂t ∂x ⎝ ∂x ⎠ ∂y ⎜ ∂y ⎟ ∂z ⎝ ∂z ⎠ ⎝ ⎠ (10) The continuity of electric charge equation is: {∇T } . W/m . Thermoelectric power generation results in order to provide a temperature gradient across a material. T . [5]: ρc ⎜ ⎛ ∂T ⎞ + {v}T {L}T ⎟ = {L}T ([k ]{L}T ) + &&& q ⎝ ∂t ⎠ (8) Developing eq. J/(kg. {J }. Seebeck coefficients are also central to Peltier cooling. q Fourier’s law of heat transfer by conduction is used in order to relate the heat flux vector to the thermal gradients: {q}= −[k ]∇T Figure 1. (7) Using eq. ∇ . [k ] .Peltier coefficient matrix. which makes it particularly attractive for coupled-physics simulation.absolute temperature.represents the divergence operator. W/m3. ∇ ⋅ . ⎧v x ⎫ {v} = ⎪v y ⎪ .Seebeck coefficient matrix.8 mm. c – specific heat capacity. t – time. (6) and eq. V/m.thermal conductivity matrix.2 Governing Equations of Thermoelectricity The new set of ANSYS coupled-field elements developed in [2] enables users to accurately and efficiently analyze thermoelectric devices. 1 (12) In the application shown in this paper.velocity vector for mass transport of heat ⎨ ⎬ ⎪ ⎪ ⎩v z ⎭ &&& . K. ISSN 1843-6188 {E}.heat generation rate per unit volume. V/K. The finite element method (FEM) flexibly used here can model arbitrary shaped structures. W/m. it results [4]: 2. work with complex materials. 2 2 ⎡ ⎧ ∂ D ⎫⎤ ∇⋅⎢ J + ⎨ ⎬⎥ = 0 ⎢ ⎩ ∂t ⎭⎥ ⎣ ⎦ {} ( 11) and the equation for a dielectric medium is given by D = [ε ] ⋅ E ( 12) . The thermoelectric cooler (Source: [2]). Cooling occurs by the absorption of heat as an electrical current passes through a junction between materials with different Seebeck coefficients.Scientific Bulletin of the Electrical Engineering Faculty – Year 10 No. The method can easily be adapted to different sets of equations.electric field. The width of the copper strap is 1 mm. [σ ] . (7).