In this post, we continue our series on thermal management solutions, how they work, and their advantages and disadvantages. This month, we’re focusing on the thermal management solution used in thermoelectric coolers: the Peltier effect.
Thermoelectric coolers transfer heat using a direct current between two electrical semiconductors to cool a desired area. When used for electronic thermal management, thermoelectric coolers use two semiconductors, one positive and one negative, to decrease temperature at the junction. The low temperature at the junction absorbs heat, thereby cooling the surrounding area. In cooling applications, the hot side of thermoelectric cooler is typically attached to a finned heat sink to keep it at ambient temperature.
A single-stage thermoelectric cooler can create a temperature difference of around 70°C at most between the positive and negative semiconductors. Where greater cooling power is necessary, manufacturers use a chain of thermoelectric coolers to cascade to a lower temperature. However, the greater temperature difference necessary, the less efficient the coolers become. Thermoelectric coolers are approximately 75% less efficient than other popular cooling methods such as compression-cycle systems and Carnot cycle refrigerators.
Thermoelectric coolers have a wide variety of applications such as printers, fiber optic systems, medical devices, and aerospace technologies. They have few moving parts and so require little maintenance. They have a long life, with a mean time between failures of over 100,000 hours. They are also flexible and small in size, do not create refrigerant emissions, and can be used in extreme environments with a wide range of ambient temperatures. However, they are also expensive, unsuitable for applications with high heat flux, and have a poor power efficiency compared to folded fin heat sinks.
Getec Industrial is a top heat pipe heatsink aluminum services company, offering aluminum channel extrusion and CNC machining for aluminum thermal management solutions. For more information about our turnkey aluminum manufacturing, contact us online or call us at 888-000-8499.