THERMOELECTRIC HEAT SINK
MODELING AND OPTIMIZATION
Richard J. Buist and Michael J. Nagy
TE Technology, Inc.
1590 Keane Drive, Traverse City, Michigan 49686 USA
Proper design and optimization of a thermoelectric (TE) heat sink
has been a topic of some neglect in the design of the TE cooling
Collectively, TE material researchers have spent tens of
millions of dollars to advance the performance level of TE materials
only to have it dashed away by ineffective heat sink design.
combination of detailed thermal modeling and high-speed personal
computers makes it no less effort to fully optimize a heat sink design
then to just derive one that "works."
Of course, derivation of a thermal model employing accurate
calculations for fluid dynamics and heat transfer can be a significant
investment of time and effort but, once completed, the payoff can
yield big dividends.
The process of model development begins with
examination of classical fluid dynamic theory but should be
validated and verified by experiment.
The model used by TE Technology, Inc. was developed over a period
of over 30 years using feed-back test data from literally thousands of
exchangers and exchanger configurations.
were applied to adjust the classical theory to better match "real-
world" test results.
As such, the details of this model are proprietary.
However, the use and application of this model and the methods
employed to optimize are the subject of this paper.
Throughout this paper, the term, heat sink, shall refer to a metal
(usually aluminum) exchanger with a fluid flowing through it.
cooled heat sinks can consist of a finned area with either flat,
louvered, wavy, perforated, "breathing effect," slotted or pin-type
These exchangers are usually combined with a centrifugal
blower or tubeaxial-type fan as the air mover.
The air direction can
be vertical, parallel or radial.
Although the method demonstration
presented in this paper involves a simple flat fin exchanger together
with a tubeaxial fan and centrifugal blower, the principles and
methodology are generically the same as with other configurations,
including liquid-cooled heat sinks.
Of course, liquid cooled heat
sinks can involve simpler tube-type configurations because of the
higher heat transfer characteristics of water or other liquids.
Properly applied, the methods described in this paper provide the
means for optimizing the heat sink design and cold or hot extenders
as described by Lau., et al
The result can maximize the
effectiveness of the TE modules resulting in reducing size, weight,
power-consumption and cost of the entire thermoelectric product, as
described by Ritzer, et al
AIR MOVER CHARACTERISTICS