Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. HoSung Lee

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Cho

Third Advisor

Dr. Muralidhar Ghantasala

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Cameron

Abstract

The remarkable amount of research being conducted on thermoelectrics gives the impression that this technology will have a bright future in power generation and temperature control systems. At the present time, thermoelectrics is applied widely for temperature control, but has not yet replaced conventional air-conditioning systems due to its lower performance. Currently, approximately 10% of annual vehicle fuel consumption corresponds to the air-conditioning system used to cool the vehicle cabin. Conventional air-conditioning systems cool the entire cabin; however, about 73% of a vehicle’s mileage occurs while the driver is the only occupant. These facts indicate the need for a single occupant zone air-conditioning system. Thermoelectrics is one of the best technologies to meet this need because it is a very scalable system, wherein a miniature air-conditioning system can be built using a thermoelectric cooler.

The current project discusses the optimization of a counter flow air-to-air thermoelectric air conditioner (TEAC) system. The work utilizes a newly developed optimal design theory and dimensional analysis technique, which allows for optimization of thermoelectric parameters simultaneously. Applying this method on a unit cell located at the center of the TEAC system provides a simple way to study the optimum design and its feasibility; however, further studies are needed to simulate the optimum design of an entire TEAC system from given inlet parameters (i.e., hot and cold air mass flow rates and ambient temperatures). The analytical model, therefore, is built by combining optimal design and thermal isolation methods so that the thermoelectric parameters of the whole system can be simulated and optimized. Based on the designed models, two experiments (one for the unit cell and the other for the whole system) are conducted in order to study the accuracy of the analytical models. Although the analytical model was built based on thermoelectric ideal equations, the results show good agreements with the experiments. These agreements are mainly due to the use of thermoelectric effective material properties, which are obtained from the measured maximum thermoelectric module parameters. The validation of the analytical model provides an uncomplicated method to study the optimum design at given inputs.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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