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High efficiency Thermo ElectRic cooling

Overview

 

The thermo-electric market is dominated by heating and cooling, with current strong growth in this area partially due to additional markets in energy harvesting. The automotive sector is a very high volume global market with main sales in EU, US and Asia. Automotive OEMs are being increasingly driven by legislation globally to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. One effective way to reduce load for both internal combustion engines and electric vehicles is through the use of zonal heating/cooling. These zonal systems directly cool the occupant’s body, leading to lower power consumption. Peltier thermoelectric cooling modules (TEC) have been developed for the automotive market.

 

Peltier, thermoelectric cooling modules (TEC) are made of arrays of n- and p-type semi-conductors. The efficiency is given by the Figure of Merit - ZT. The majority of thermoelectric solutions are based on rare-earth materials such as tellurium which constitute ~90% of the global market. Bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) and its solid solution alloy Bi2-xSbxTe3 (p-type), Bi2Te3-xSex (n-type) are the commercial state of the art material with peak ZT~1.0 @ 80oC and average ZT over TEC operating temperature of ~0.8. HunTER will further develop and enhance the thermoelectric properties of Bi2Te3 systems based on phonon scattering, grain boundary engineering, metal-semiconductor interface for electron filtering and single stage hot-pressing (sintering and diffusion bonding). Thermoelectric coolers currently manufactured have a typical hot-side temperature of 50-55oC and a low side temperature of 0-5oC. The peak ZT for current Bi2Te3 systems falls outside of the normal operating temperatures. Within HunTER we aim to increase the peak ZT for of Bi2Te3 thermoelectric materials to ~1.2 at the mid temperature (25-50oC) and achieve an average ZT over the thermal cooler range of ~1.0 for both n- and p-type Bi2Te3 alloys -  enabling us to be able to achieve an increased ZT of 10-20% for Peltier cooling. Initially this advance will be targeted at the automotive zonal cooling market sector then progressively across a range of other appropriate applications and sectors.

 

 

 

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Aims

 

HunTER will aim to increase the peak ZT for bismuth telluride based thermoelectric materials at the mid temperature range (25-50oC) and achieve an average ZT over the thermal cooler range of ~1.0 for both n- and p-type materials. Thereby achieving an increased ZT of 10-20% for Peltier cooling and creating a cost/technology performance advantage over competitive solutions. Initially this advance will be targeted at the automotive zonal cooling market sector then progressively across a range of other appropriate applications and sectors.