ISSN 1843-6188

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

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:
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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


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]:

α 2 ⋅σ ⎡ 1 ⎤
k ,⎢ ⎥ ⎣K ⎦


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


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).

y. (18). q . and is nonsymmetric like eq. z axes. material coefficients along the x. the analysis is nonlinear and requires at least two iterations to converge.vector Q of combined heat generation loads . 91 .element specific heat matrix C TT = ρ C {N }{N }dV ( ) ∫ . and can be derived from an electric scalar potential ϕ : ∫ . [ε ] . convection. i. [5]: & ⎡CTT 0 ⎤⎧Te ⎫ ⎡kTT 0 ⎤⎧Te ⎫ ⎧Q + QP + Qe ⎫ ⎪ ⎪ = + ⎢ ⎬ ϕϕ⎥⎨ & ⎬ ⎢ ϕT ϕϕ⎥⎨ ⎬ ⎨ ϕe ⎭ ⎪ ϕe ⎭ ⎢k ⎪ k ⎥⎩ I ⎢ 0 C ⎥⎩ ⎭ ⎩ ⎦ ⎦ ⎣ ⎣ (18) .. Electrical loads (I) can be in the form of imposed electric potential and point electric current. as well as body heat generation rate for causes other than electric power dissipation (accounted for in Qe).electric power load vector: Qe = ( ) ∫ {N }{E}⋅ {J }dV q where the heat generation term &&& in eq. This technique involves the following steps [4]: a) approximate the temperature T and the electric scalar potential ϕ over a finite element as [3]: T = {N }⋅ {T }e ϕ = {N }⋅ ϕ e (16) (17) where: {N } .e. All material properties can be temperature dependent. (3)-(12) to obtain the values of J . or radiation. a system of coupled equations of thermoelectricity is obtained [3]: ∂T (14) ρc + ∇ ⋅ [Π ]⋅ J − ∇ ⋅ ([k ]⋅ ∇T ) = &&& q ∂t ∂ϕ ⎞ ⎛ ∇ ⋅ ⎜ [ε ] ⋅ ∇ ⎟ + ∇([σ ] ⋅ [α ] ⋅ ∇T ) + ∇ ⋅ ([σ ] ⋅ ∇ϕ ) = 0 (15) ∂t ⎠ ⎝ ∫ . ϕ e .vector of nodal temperatures. [ε] is in the form of their diagonal terms.Peltier heat load vector: Q P = ∇{N }⋅ [Π ] ⋅ {J }dV Substituting eqs. point heat flow rate. Thomson effect is taken into account by specifying temperature dependent Seebeck coefficients [α] [3]. The solution yields temperatures (Te) and electric potentials (φe) at unconstrained nodes. or reactions in the form of heat flow rate and electric current at nodes with imposed temperature and electric potential respectively. The temperature gradient and electric field are calculated as [3]: ( ) where the element matrices and load vectors are obtained by numerical integration over the element volume V. (14) includes the electric power J ⋅ E spend on Joule heating and on work against the Seebeck field [α ]∇T .ISSN 1843-6188 Scientific Bulletin of the Electrical Engineering Faculty – Year 10 No. Thermal loads (Q) can be in the form of imposed temperature. [α]. The input [λ] is the thermal conductivity evaluated at zero electric current J = 0 .electric current load vector I. D fields. The system thermoelectric finite element equations can be obtained by applying the Galerkin FEM procedure to the coupled equations derived in the previous section. the electric field E is irrotational ∇ × E = 0 .element electrical conductivity coefficient matrix: k ϕϕ = ∇{N }⋅ [σ ] ⋅ ∇{N }dV ∫ . (19) (20) ∫ {E} = −∇{N }⋅ ϕe .electric flux density. . The resulting system of thermoelectric finite element equations is [2]. capacitors. Electrical properties are input as resistivity and internally converted into conductivity [σ]. d) take into account the Neumann boundary conditions. [σ]. The global matrix equation is assembled from the individual finite element equations. The corresponding expressions are: . (3)-(13) into eqs.vector of element shapes functions. Since the thermal load vector depends on the electric solution. This input can be combined with an arbitrarily oriented element coordinate system to account for an alternative material orientation. b) write the system of eqs.element Seebeck coefficient coupling matrix and then substituted into Eqs. and Joule heat generation density for each element. (6)-(11). and voltage or current sources) can be connected to the finite element model to simulate passive and active electrical loads [2]. Linear electric circuit components (resistors. surface heat flux. which is the conductivity evaluated at zero temperature gradient. In particular.vector of nodal electric potentials. C/m2.element dielectric permittivity coefficient matrix C ϕϕ = ∇{N }⋅ [ε ] ⋅ ∇{N }dV ∫ E = −∇ϕ (13) . {T }e . The ANSYS input of material matrices [k]. 1 (12) k ϕT = ∇{N }⋅ [σ ] ⋅ [α ] ⋅ ∇{N }dV where: D .element diffusion conductivity matrix: k TT = ∇{N }⋅ [λ ] ⋅ ∇{N }dV ∇T = ∇{N }⋅ Te .dielectric permittivity matrix. (14) and (15) in a useful form. In the absence of time-varying magnetic fields. F/m. [5]. c) integrate the equations by parts.

obtain the solution. These include bismuthtellurium (Bi-Te) and antimony-tellurium (Sb-Te) compounds. Distribution of temperature for Bi2Te3 material Figure 2. nanostructured materials have been investigated as candidates to increase the performance of thermoelectric devices. The material properties for the calculations with temperatureindependent values are shown in Table 1. Here typical 92 A calculation model that simulates the thermal and electric performance of whole cooling based on thermoelectric technology has been implemented. and Thomson effects. apply boundary conditions and loads (excitation). it is necessary to use the ANSYS preprocessor (PREP7) and to establish a mathematical simulation model of the physical problem [5].587 288. Peltier pellet components type. [10] Material properties from Seebeck Coefficient Electric resistivity Thermal conductivity Density Heat capacity Units measure α [V/K ] ρ [S/m ] λ [W/m/K ] δ [V/K ] C [V/K ] BismuthTellurium (Bi-Te) p:200e-6 n:-200e-6 0. review the results.9 e-5 1. the only materials used for cooling. This package operates with three stages: preprocessor. electroelastic. . STEADY-STATE ANALYSIS OF A THERMOELECTRIC ELEMENT values for Bismuth-Telluride. thermal-electric. In the present application. define the analysis title. for modeling the electric and thermal fields the SOLID227 element was chosen.5e-6 0.Scientific Bulletin of the Electrical Engineering Faculty – Year 10 No. those material properties depend on the temperature and may be anisotropic. Thermoelectric capabilities include Seebeck. Meshing the model with triangular elements Next step in the preprocessor phase is mesh generation and load application on the elements. define element coordinate systems. 1 ELEMENTS APR 6 2010 20:21:55 Usually.213 332. In order to do this.025 295. Transport properties of PbTe nanocomposites have been evaluated through temperature-dependent electrical conductivity.775 325. [8]. as well as Joule heating.169 e-8 350 8920 385 Numerical simulation is carried out by using a finite element package ANSYS. 1 (12) ISSN 1843-6188 3.15 280. The following examples show results of calculations for typical thermoelectric applications. build and mesh the model and assign physics attributes to each region within the model. it is necessary to define several element types to model the different physics regions in the model.338 317.8 e-5 1. Depending on the nature of the problem. More recently.Se)3 are the best and.65 341. room temperature. Lead-Telluride and copper were taken from [6]. In order to define the physics environment for an analysis. Table 1.4 LeadTellurium (Pb-Te) p:175e-6 n:-175e-6 0.15 Figure 3. Thermoelectric (TE) materials based on (Bi.548 8160 156 Cooper 6.6 7740 154. set real constants and define a system of units. PbTe nanocomposites have been prepared from PbTe nanocrystals. synthesized via chemical route.15 APR 6 2010 22:30:41 MN Y Z X Y Z X MX 273. piezoelectric. solver and postprocessor. define material properties. It was used a mesh with 6366 nodes and 3249 triangular elements. define element types and options. Here only isotropic material properties are used at constant material parameters.9 310. 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 TEMP (AVG) RSYS=0 SMN =273. The model inputs are: semiconductor materials and geometry. SOLID227 has the following capabilities: structuralthermal. the following steps are presented below: set GUI Preferences. Peltier. in fact.15 SMX =341. The distribution of temperature for Bi2Te3 material is shown in Figure 3 and the distribution of voltage for BiTe material is shown in Figure 4. The procedure for doing a static thermoelectricity analysis consists of following main steps: create the physics environment. thermalpiezoelectric. Element types establish the physics of the problem domain. Seebeck coefficient. by compaction under high pressure and temperature. piezoresistive.463 302. structural-thermoelectric. The finite element mesh of the thermoelectric element is shown in Figure 2. The element has ten nodes with up to five degrees of freedom per node. Numerical material properties from [6].Sb)2(Te. electrical voltage supplied to the Peltier pellet components and the hot and cold side temperatures. and thermal conductivity measurements [7]. The thermoelectric (TE) properties are found to vary with the shape and size of the composites’ nanostructures. ANSYS includes three elements which can be used in modeling the thermoelectricity phenomenon [5].

Distribution of voltage for PbTe material The temperature dependence of Seebeck coefficient. heat flows.086435 APR 26 2010 00:18:59 Y Z X . the model-returned outputs are: temperatures.0924 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 TEMP (AVG) RSYS=0 SMN =273.070744 .ISSN 1843-6188 Scientific Bulletin of the Electrical Engineering Faculty – Year 10 No.047269 . 93 .15 K and dissipates heat from the hot junction Th=336.050531 .275 321.018908 .15 Figure 7.0924 APR 6 2010 22:30:58 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 TFSUM (AVG) RSYS=0 SMN =.037815 .075631 . the Joule heating is generated uniformly inside the element.15 K for PbTe material.15 280. The dissipated heat must reach both ends equally by conduction.060638 .056723 . of materials that already have a good power factor.153E-08 SMX =30456 MN MN Y Z X APR 6 2010 22:52:20 273. Distribution of temperature for PbTe material MX The distribution of voltage for PbTe material is shown in Figure 8. Distribution of thermal flux for Bi2Te3 material The distribution of temperature for PbTe material is shown in Figure 7.15 K on the passage of an electric current of magnitude I=0.384 336. 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 TGSUM (AVG) RSYS=0 SMN =.494 MX 328. 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 VOLT (AVG) RSYS=0 SMX =.15 SMX =336.603 314.153E-08 3331 6662 9993 13324 16655 19986 23318 26649 30456 MX Figure 5. Distribution of thermal gradient for Bi2Te3 material After the simulation. 1 (12) When an electric current is running from the cold end to the hot end.066177 .010106 . ZT.858E-06 SMX =610888 MX MN APR 6 2010 22:36:05 Y Z X MX .028362 . thermal flux.15 APR 26 2010 00:18:07 Figure 4.030319 .15 K and to dissipate heat from the hot junction Th=341. electrical conductivity and power factor of the PbTe material lie within the temperature range 400–600 K. thermal gradient.931 293.08085 . The cold junction is at a temperature of Tc=273. Thermal conductivity reduction has played a central role in improving the thermoelectric figure-of merit.713 307. The positive direction of the current is from the n-type material to the p-type material.009454 .858E-06 66816 133632 200448 267264 334080 400895 467711 534527 610888 Y MN Z X Figure 6.020213 .535 A. Y MN Z X 0 .822 300.086435 Figure 8. 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 VOLT (AVG) RSYS=0 SMX =. and voltage distribution. 0 . The distribution of thermal gradient for Bi2Te3 material is shown in Figure 5 and the distribution of thermal flux for Bi2Te3 material is shown in Figure 6.041 286.040425 . Distribution of voltage for Bi2Te3 material The cooler with Bi2Te3 material is designed to maintain the cold junction at a temperature Tc=273.

Direct Energy Conversion. Allyn and Bacon (Boston. the latter material is used. Biplab Paul and Pallab Banerji .. ANSYS Release 11. PbTe thermoelectric generators have been widely used by the US army.Modeling of Peltier . in space crafts to provide onboard power. efficiency. the thermal conductivity is too high and the Seebeck coefficient is too small for refrigeration applications. Nano/Microscale Heat Transfer. 1996). 2007. [8] [9] D. Julian Goldsmid. S.Grain Structure Induced Thermoelectric Properties in PbTe Nanocomposites. 1 (12) ISSN 1843-6188 4. Vol. March 2. In fact.2 mV for cooler with PbTe. It can be seen that a smaller thermal conductivity will decrease the heat transfer between the two ends. 1999 Angrist. Ph. Introduction to Thermoelectricity. Springer Series in Materials Science. The voltage at the upper electrode is 46. functional properties and figure-of-merit of materials.C. – Finite Elements for Thermoelectric Device Analysis in ANSYS. Antonova E. Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Letters. L. although the value of the figure of merit of PbTe is lower than for Bi2Te3. coefficient of performance.153E-08 3612 7224 10836 14448 18060 21672 25284 28896 33024 Figure 9. Some insulators can have a large Seebeck coefficient but their electrical resistivity is too high for them to be used in thermoelectric devices.Multiphysics Simulation of Thermoelectric Systems .. – Thermoelectric Materials. 4. LLC. 2006 by Taylor & Francis Group.858E-06 65837 131673 197510 263347 329183 395020 460856 526693 601935 Figure 10. Zhuomin M. 94 . D. [10] H.M. 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 TFSUM (AVG) RSYS=0 SMN =. and in pacemaker batteries. Looman D.D. CONCLUSIONS 1 NODAL SOLUTION STEP=1 SUB =1 TIME=1 TGSUM (AVG) RSYS=0 SMN =. 3rd Edition. REFERENCES [1] Kimmel. Special Topics Paper. W. 0-7803-9552-2/05 IEEE. and Ferrari. Applications of the two materials Bi2Te3 and PbTe demonstrate the Peltier effect for thermoelectric cooling. or sensitivity of devices). a temperature difference of nearly 63 K for cooler with PbTe and temperature difference of nearly 68 K for cooler with Bi2Te3 is noted. This means that. 1976). International Conference on Thermoelectrics 2005. Finite Elements for Electrical Engineers. The application shown in this paper can be useful to represent the characteristics of the Peltier cooling through numerical models. University Press (Cambridge. Thermoelectric Handbook Macro to Nano. Distribution of thermal flux for PbTe material [7] Materials and device characterization play a key role in thermoelectric research. [2] MX MN [3] Y Z X [4] [5] [6] . PbTe has been considered more as a material for thermoelectric generation at moderately high temperatures rather than for refrigeration at room temperature and below [10].E. 140-166. P. Silvester P.Cooling and Thermoelectric Generation.153E-08 SMX =33024 APR 26 2010 00:20:06 MN MX Y Z X . Zhang. Physics 152. 3rd Edition.858E-06 SMX =601935 APR 26 2010 00:20:43 When lead telluride PbTe is compared with bismuth telluride Bi2Te3. 1.. Proceedings of the COMSOL Conference 2008 Hannover. .Sc..0 Documentation. Jaegle M. pp. Materials composition and parameters affect the achieved thermoelectric (TE) performance (for example. Mc Grow Hill. Distribution of thermal gradient for PbTe material The distribution of the thermal gradient for PbTe material is shown in Figure 9 and the distribution of thermal flux for Bi-Te material is shown in Figure 10. 208– 212. Rowe. 2009. a smaller electrical resistivity will reduce the Joule heating.2 mV for cooler with Bi2Te3 and 43.Scientific Bulletin of the Electrical Engineering Faculty – Year 10 No. lead telluridebased materials have been used for a range of purposes in the hot-junction temperature range 600 to 900 K [9]. and a larger Seebeck or Peltier coefficient will enhance the heat removal. Conversely. R. For most metals. 2009. J.

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