Optimization Strategies for a Portable Thermoelectric Vaccine Refrigeration System in Developing Communities
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The traditional approach to determine an optimum current for thermoelectric cooling assumes that a refrigeration chamber is insulated and has no thermal resistance to a thermoelectric module. As a result, minimum temperature occurs when Peltier cooling matches with parasitic heat transfer and Joule heating. In practical application, minimum temperature happens when heat addition from the environment is matched with heat extracted by a thermoelectric module, and the optimum current differs from that anticipated by the traditional approach. Hence, consideration for insulation and thermal resistances via thermoelectric module should be made to achieve desirable cooling performance/refrigeration temperature. This paper presents a modeling approach to determine the optimum current as well as the optimum geometry to power a small thermoelectric vaccine delivery system for developing communities under the World Health Organization requirements. The model is derived from three energy conservation equations for temperatures at both ends of the thermoelectric materials within a module, as well as the refrigeration chamber temperature. A prototype was built and demonstrated a minimum temperature of 3.4°C. With optimized module geometry, the system is estimated to reduce power consumption by over 50% while achieving twice the temperature difference.
KeywordsPeltier optimum current geometry system optimization
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