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Optimization of Variable Cross-Sectional Area Thermoelectric Elements Through Multi-method Thermal-Electric Coupled Modeling

Mamoozadeh, Arsha and Wielgosz, Sarah and Yu, Kevin and Drymiotis, Fivos and Matthew, Barry (2021) Optimization of Variable Cross-Sectional Area Thermoelectric Elements Through Multi-method Thermal-Electric Coupled Modeling. ASTFE Digital Library. pp. 1437-1451. ISSN 2379-1748

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A well-posed thermal-electric coupled mathematical-numerical model to optimize the cross-sectional area per length of a thermoelectric (TE) leg is introduced to maximize thermal conversion efficiency (eta) or power output (Po). To employ such optimization, the p- or n-type leg was divided into uniform length segments, wherein the product of the electrical resistance (Rel) and thermal conductance (K) was minimized as to maximize the figure of merit (ZT) of each individual partition. The minimization of RelK was dependent upon the temperature difference established across each segment, which was resolved using a one-dimensional finite difference (FD) scheme of the TE general energy equation (GEQ). The TE GEQ included all pertinent phenomena - conduction, Joule, Peltier and Thomson effects - as well as temperature dependent properties. The boundary conditions of the FD scheme were provided via a one-dimensional thermal resistance network. The current output of the unicouple was determined by the temperature bounds across the junction and the internal resistance of the TE legs, and this was explicitly coupled to the TE GEQ to create a fully-coupled model. The proposed model was validated to a fully-coupled thermal-electric finite volume method model implemented in ANSYS CFX. The proposed optimization process yielded improvements in volumetric efficiency and volumetric power output of 4.60% and 3.75%, respectively, in comparison to conventional constant-area optimization processes.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mamoozadeh, Arshaarm213@pitt.eduarm213
Wielgosz, Sarahsaw179@pitt.edusaw179
Matthew, Barrymmb49@pitt.edummb49
Date: 2021
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: ASTFE Digital Library
Publisher: Begel House Inc.
Page Range: pp. 1437-1451
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1615/tfec2021.cmd.036774
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 2379-1748
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2023 20:19
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2023 20:19


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