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Advantages and Applications of Using Thermoelectric Coolers and Generators

Thermoelectric coolers (TEC’s) are extensively used in high-technology fields, such as telecommunications, electronics, space, medicine, and other applications. TECs are also widely used in consumer goods e.g. portable refrigerators, freezers, water coolers, compact air conditioners, etc. The use of thermoelectricity for energy generation, for powering stand-alone objects such as remote telecommunication, navigation, gas and oil distributing stations, and corrosion protection of gas and oil pipes, offers great benefits. A thermoelectric generator allows the direct conversion of heat energy into electricity by semiconductor thermogenerating modules.

Modern laser, optical, and radio-electronic devices cannot be built without cooling and temperature control systems. Presently companies worldwide demand compact, noiseless and reliable equipment for industrial cooling and temperature control. Thermoelectric Cooler (TEC) is a semiconductor device, based on the Peltier phenomena, that meets all of the aforementioned requirement.

Heat pumping is one of the typical TEC applications with cooling capacity ranging from milliwatts up to hundreds of watts. Exact values depend on customer requirements. TE cooling offers several distinct advantages compared to other cooling technologies:

— no moving elements, no vibration;

— environmental safety;

— no working fluids or gases;

— operation without any acoustic and electrical noise;

— operation in any spatial position (zero g-sensitivity);

— easy switching from cooling to heat pumping heating mode;

— extremely small size (down to 2,7*2,7 mm and 1,65 mm height) and weight;

— wide variety of cooling capacity – from milliwatts up to 350 W from a single TEC;

— high reliability, exceeding 300000 hours of steady-state operation, qualified by life-tests;

— high accuracy of temperature maintaining up to 10-5 K (with an appropriate controller);

— heat pumping direction for single-stage TEC is reversible by changing the polarity of power supply;

— reliable operation in applications that are too small or too sensitive for conventional refrigeration.

Freezing is another very common TECs application. Ability to produce semiconductor materials with high merit-factor allows Kryotherm to serially supply single-stage TECs with a ∆Tmax up to 76K. Optimized construction and materials used in multistage TEC’s allow us to achieve the best ΔT, e.g. up to 140K using 4-stage TECs. All these advantages make thermoelectric coolers highly popular, confirmed by a growing demand for a wide variety of Kryotherm components all over the world.

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