Building HVAC and PV-powered thermoelectric cooling

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Building HVAC and PV-powered thermoelectric cooling

Semi-transparent TEM-wall module with PV shield. Image credit: Shoolini University

Scientists have proposed a way to combine thermoelectric modules (TEMs) with rooftop PV to support HVAC function in buildings. They designed a wall-integrated TEM to heat and cool adjacent rooms.

An Australian-Indian research group has looked at how thermoelectric modules (TEMs) and PV could be combined to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) in buildings.

Thermoelectric modules are widely used for the electronic cooling of devices such as personal computer processors and portable food and beverage storage systems.

“Thermoelectric cooling can be cheaper to operate than many conventional HVAC type systems for small area cooling applications especially if we are coupling it with photovoltaic electricity which is cheaper than conventional electricity for many regions of the world,” researcher Shyam Singh Chandel said.

The researchers said that conventional TEMs have only rarely been used in actual buildings due to their low coefficient of performance (COP). The combination with PV, however, could bring them closer to commercial viability in the construction sector, especially if they are used in low-energy-demand buildings which still rely on conventional air conditioning.

“In the current state of the art, a prototype thermoelectric cooling system may not be cheaper as far as upfront cost is concerned but will provide many advantages like zero or low maintenance, easy repair, zero-noise operation, modularity, precision cooling and is certainly more environmentally friendly than chlorofluorocarbons-based cooling systems which affect the environment due to fugitive emissions, especially during manufacturing and disposal of such systems,” said Chandel.

The scientists developed a novel design for a TEM system powered by building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). The system uses air as the thermal fluid for rooftop PV and a primary TEM wall for room air conditioning.


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