Study of Solar-Assisted Thermoelectric Technology for Automobile Air Conditioning

[+] Author and Article Information
V. C. Mei, F. C. Chen

Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Oak Ridge, TN 73831

B. Mathiprakasam, P. Heenan

Midwest Research Institute, Kansas City, MO 64110

J. Sol. Energy Eng 115(4), 200-205 (Nov 01, 1993) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2930050 History: Received October 01, 1992; Revised March 01, 1993; Online June 06, 2008


An analytical study was conducted to determine the feasibility of employing solar energy assisted thermoelectric (TE) cooling technology in automobile air conditioners. The study addressed two key issues—power requirements and availability of thermoelectric materials. In this paper, a mathematical model was developed to predict the performance of TE air conditioners and to analyze power consumption. Results show that the power required to deliver a cooling capacity of 4 kW (13,680 Btu/h) in a 38°C (100°F) environment will be 9.5 kW electric. Current TE modules suitable for air conditioning are made of bismuth telluride. The element tellurium is expected to be in short supply if TE cooling is widely implemented for auto air conditioning; some options available in this regard were studied and presented in this paper. The photovoltaic (PV) cells, assumed to cover the roof area of a compact car, can only generate about 225 W. However, this is more than enough to power a fan to provide air ventilation to the car interior, which significantly reduces the peak cooling load when the car is parked in bright sunlight.

Copyright © 1993 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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