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Building-Integrated Thermoelectrics as Active Insulators and Heat Pumps

[+] Author Affiliations
Leon M. Headings, Gregory N. Washington

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Paper No. IMECE2007-43122, pp. 269-278; 10 pages
  • ASME 2007 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 10: Mechanics of Solids and Structures, Parts A and B
  • Seattle, Washington, USA, November 11–15, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4304-1 | eISBN: 0-7918-3812-9
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) accounts for 40% to 60% of residential and commercial building energy consumption, making this a critical component of energy usage in the face of rising energy prices. Building-integrated thermoelectrics (BITE) may provide a step towards adaptive homes and buildings that offer significantly improved efficiency and comfort. Integrating thermoelectrics into thermal mass and resistance (insulation) wall systems presents a fundamental shift from optimizing heating and cooling source efficiencies and minimizing building-envelope energy losses to a new regime where an active envelope is optimized to most efficiently eliminate those losses. This approach not only offers improved energy efficiency, but improves the uniformity and consistency of temperature, eliminates the need for all other heating and air conditioning equipment including thermal energy transport, and provides the platform for adaptive zone heating and cooling which can provide additional efficiency gains. Because of the solid-state nature of thermoelectrics, such a system would be reliable, low maintenance, silent, and clean. This paper examines various wall configurations and sizing for thermal mass, resistance, and thermoelectric components. A dynamic simulation is used to demonstrate how proper system design of thermal resistance and capacitance elements with existing thermoelectric materials may improve the typically low coefficient of performance of thermoelectric devices, making it competitive with traditional building systems. The results for different wall configurations are shown as a basis for future configuration design and optimization.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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