Research Papers

Design of Thermoelectric Modules for High Heat Flux Cooling

[+] Author and Article Information
Ram Ranjan

United Technologies Research Center,
411 Silver Ln,
East Hartford, CT 06108
e-mail: ranjanr1@utrc.utc.com

Joseph E. Turney, Charles E. Lents, Virginia H. Faustino

United Technologies Research Center,
411 Silver Ln,
East Hartford, CT 06108

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ELECTRONIC PACKAGING. Manuscript received July 21, 2013; final manuscript received July 27, 2014; published online September 19, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Y. C. Lee.

J. Electron. Packag 136(4), 041001 (Sep 19, 2014) (8 pages) Paper No: EP-13-1073; doi: 10.1115/1.4028118 History: Received July 21, 2013; Revised July 27, 2014

Thermoelectric (TE) coolers work on the Seebeck effect, where an electrical current is used to drive a heat flux against a temperature gradient. They have applications for active cooling of electronic devices but have low coefficients of performance (COP < 1) at high heat fluxes (>10 W/cm2, dT = 15 K). While the active elements (TE material) in a TE cooling module lead to cooling, the nonactive elements, such as the electrical leads and headers, cause joule heating and decrease the coefficient of performance. A conventional module design uses purely horizontal leads and vertical active elements. In this work, we numerically investigate trapezoidal leads with angled active elements as a method to improve cooler performance in terms of lower parasitic resistance, higher packing fraction and higher reliability, for both supperlattice thin-film and bulk TE materials. For source and sink side temperatures of 30 °C and 45 °C, we show that, for a constant packing fraction, defined as the ratio of active element area to the couple base area, trapezoidal leads decrease electrical losses but also increase thermal resistance. We also demonstrate that trapezoidal leads can be used to increase the packing fraction to values greater than one, leading to a two times increase in heat pumping capacity. Structural analysis shows a significant reduction in both tensile and shear stresses in the TE modules with trapezoidal leads. Thus, the present work provides a pathway to engineer more reliable thermoelectric coolers (TECs) and improve their efficiency by >30% at a two times higher heat flux as compared to the state-of-the-art.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
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Fig. 1

Trapezoidal lead specification in a TEC module

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Fig. 2

Geometry build-up for TE couple with trapezoidal leads: (a) initial geometry, (b) after header placement and unit cell creation, and (c) with additional couple length and height

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Fig. 3

SL TE cooler with trapezoidal leads

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Fig. 4

Trade-off between electrical and thermal transport resistances with increasing leg angle

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Fig. 5

(a) Maximum COP and (b) heat pumped at various leg angles for fixed packing fraction

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Fig. 6

Packing fraction versus leg angle for different TE leg thickness

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Fig. 7

(a) Maximum COP and (b) heat pumped at various leg angles for variable packing fraction

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Fig. 8

COP as a function of leg angle and pumped heat flux for the 14 μm thick SL TE module

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Fig. 9

Bulk TE cooler with trapezoidal leads

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Fig. 10

Packing fraction versus leg angle for different TE leg thickness

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Fig. 11

(a) Maximum COP and (b) heat pumped at various leg angles

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Fig. 12

COP as a function of leg angle and pumped heat flux for the 0.2 mm thick bulk TE elements

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Fig. 13

((a) and (b)) Module geometry and component nomenclature, and (c) boundary conditions

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Fig. 14

Maximum ((a) and (b)) tensile and ((c) and (d)) shear stresses in TE legs in 0 deg ((a) and (c)) and 80 deg ((b) and (d)) leg angle cases



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