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The History of Thermoelectric Devices

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Although thermoelectric (TE) phenomena was discovered more than 150 years ago, thermoelectric devices (TE coolers) have only been applied commercially during recent decades. For some time, commercial TECs have been developing in parallel with two mainstream directions of technical progress – electronics and photonics, particularly optoelectronics and laser techniques. Lately, a dramatic increase in the application of TE solutions in optoelectronic devices has been observed, such as diode lasers, super-luminescent diodes (SLD), various photo-detectors, diode pumped solid state lasers (DPSS), charge-coupled devices (CCDs), focal plane arrays (FPA) and others. The effect of heating or cooling at the junctions of two different conductors exposed to the current was named in honor of the French watchmaker Jean Peltier (1785–1845) who discovered it in 1834. It was found that if a current passes through the contacts of two dissimilar conductors in a circuit, a temperature differential appears between them. This briefly described phenomenon is the basis of thermoelectricity and is applied actively in the so-called thermoelectric cooling modules.

Thermoelectric devices (thermoelectric modules) can convert electrical energy into a temperature gradient––this phenomena was discovered by Peltier in 1834. The application of this cooling or heating effect remained minimal until the development of semiconductor materials. With the advent of semiconductor materials came the capability for a wide variety of practical thermoelectric refrigeration applications. Thermoelectric refrigeration is achieved when a direct current is passed through one or more pairs of n and p-type semiconductor materials. In the cooling mode, direct current passes from the n to p-type semiconductor material. The temperature of the interconnecting conductor decreases and heat is absorbed from the environment. This heat absorption from the environment (cooling) occurs when electrons pass from a low energy level in the p-type material through the interconnecting conductor to a higher energy level in the n-type material.

The absorbed heat is transferred through the semiconductor materials by electron transport to the other end of the junction TH and liberated as the electrons return to a lower energy level in the p-type material. This phenomenon is called the Peltier effect. We studied working system of HVAC system and observe temperature and pressure in this system. Our aim is to introduce the new HVAC system using thermoelectric couple which shall overcome all the disadvantages of existing HVAC system. If this system comes in present HVAC system, then revolution will occur in the automotive sector also. With population and pollution increasing at an alarming rate TEC (thermoelectric couple) system have come to rescue as these are environment friendly, compact and affordable. Conventional compressor run cooling devices have many drawbacks pertaining to energy efficiency and the use of CFC refrigerants. Both these factors indirectly point to the impending scenario of global warming. As most of the electricity generation relies on the coal power plants, which add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is the major cause of global warming.

Although researches are going on, better alternatives for the CFC refrigerants is still on the hunt. So instead of using conventional air conditioning systems, other products which can efficiently cool a person are to be devised. By using other efficient cooling mechanisms we can save the electricity bills and also control the greenhouse gases that are currently released into the atmosphere. Although Thermoelectric (TE) property was discovered about two centuries ago thermoelectric devices have only been commercialized during recent years. The applications of TE vary from small refrigerators and electronics package cooling to Avionic instrumentation illumination control and thermal imaging cameras. Lately a dramatic increase in the applications of TE coolers in the industry has been observed. It includes water chillers, cold plates, portable insulin coolers, portable beverage containers and etc.

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The History of Thermoelectric Devices. (2019, February 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from
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