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Ashish Sinha, Yogendra Joshi

George W Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA, USA 30332
Phone: (404)-720-4168
Email: ashish.sinha@gatech.edu

ABSTRACT T Temperature- (K)

Performance of a two-stage thermoelectric adsorption heat TE Thermo-Electric
pump for electronics cooling in a thermally harsh environment U A term representing thermal conductance (W-K-1)
has been presented. Adsorption heat pumps have few moving kte Thermal conductivity of the thermo-electric
parts, which make them suitable for use in harsh environments material, Bismuth Telluride (Bi2Te3). (W-m-1- K-
that are prone to mechanical shock and high temperatures. Use )
of a thermoelectric device for heat regeneration during the
adsorption-desorption process promises to make the system Greek symbols
compact enough for electronic enclosures. Two-step Electrical resistance ()
adsorption aims to reduce the thermal variations at the hot and th Thermal resistance (K-W-1)
cold faces of the thermoelectric device, thus enhancing its Thermal mass (J-K-1)
performance. Here, adsorption takes place at two different Seebeck coefficient of the thermo-electric
pressures and this requires two evaporators at two different material, Bismuth Telluride (Bi2Te3). (V-K-1)
temperatures. This is unlike most conventional adsorption Electrical resistivity of Bismuth Telluride
systems where adsorption takes place at a single evaporator (Bi2Te3). (-m).
pressure. An experimental setup (for two-step adsorption) was
fabricated and tested for a heat rejection temperature of 185 0C Subscripts
and cooling load of up to 6W. Experiments were also carried C Pertaining to condenser
out for a single step (conventional) adsorption cycle for E Pertaining to evaporator
similar conditions. This allowed comparing the performance a Ambient
of two-step modified adsorption cycle vis--vis single step ads Adsorption
conventional adsorption cycle. COPs of 0.2 and 0.3 were avg Referring to average of properties attributed to
observed for conventional and modified cycles respectively. the hot and cold sides of a TE device
b Pertaining to bed (bed i or bed j)
KEY WORDS: Adsorption, Thermoelectric, Regenerative, c, cond Pertaining to condenser
Electronics, Cooling, Harsh, Environment d Desorption
e, evap Pertaining to evaporator
i Pertaining to bed i
j Pertaining to bed j
C Point on Clausius diagram denoting condenser ref Refrigerant
COP Coefficient of Performance tec , te Thermo-Electric Cooler (TE Device)
Cp Specific Heat Capacity (J kg-1 K-1) z Zeolite
E Point on Clausius diagram denoting evaporator
F, G, Points on the Clausius diagram of the adsorption
G Geometric Factor of the TE device. Ratio of area Work by several researchers on miniature sorption systems [1-
to length of a thermoelectric junction. (m) 4] suggests the use of sorption systems for electronics cooling.
M, m Mass (Kg) Gordon et al [1] and Ng et al [2] have done detailed
N Number of thermo-electric junctions in a TE theoretical study as well as performed experiments on the
device. prototype of an adsorption system designed to address an
P, p Pressure (milibars, 1 bar = 100 kPa) electronics cooling load of up to 120 W. The heat rejection
Pow Power (W)

978-1-4244-5343-6/10/$26.00 2010 IEEE

temperature varied from 40 0C to 50 0C, with the electronics Extreme Temperature range for various applications
being maintained between 20 0C to 30 0C. Combustion Chamber
Space Application

In comparison to several other thermal management systems Nuclear Power Instrumentation

Oil Exploration
such as vapor compression refrigeration (driven by centrifugal Medicine
or reciprocating compressors), thermo-acoustic etc, adsorption Auto On Engine
systems have the advantage of having few moving parts by the Auto Under Hood

virtue of vapor compression by chemical action rather than Telecom/ PDA's

mechanical (hence enhanced reliability with less maintenance 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Temperature in degrees Celcius
issues). Also unlike mechanical compressors, adsorption
compressors (and hence the adsorption cooling system) can be Fig 1 Temperature range for various electronics applications [13-15].
scaled to smaller sizes without any loss of efficiency [1, 2, 5].
This makes adsorption systems more suitable for typically Since the application of adsorption systems have already been
miniature electronic enclosures. While smaller cooling investigated for near room temperature cooling by Gordon et
systems, such as ThermoElectric (TE) coolers, that are easily al [1] and Ng et al [2], it becomes worthwhile to investigate
available and compact enough to cool electronics do exist, their application for thermally harsher environments. Sinha et
their coefficient of performance is less when compared to al [6, 11] have described the challenges that may arise in high
what has been achieved by thermoelectric-adsorption coolers temperature application of a system similar to the one
as described by Gordon et al [1] and Ng et al [2]. investigated by Gordon et al [1] and Ng et al [2]. Since the
system uses a TE device for regeneration of heat of adsorption
Passive thermal management techniques such as heat pipes, in between adsorbent beds, one of the critical challenges
heat spreaders, heat sinks etc are less desirable for maintaining relates to the reliability of a TE device at harsher temperatures.
electronics below the ambient temperature during sustained The TE device provides a compact means to transfer heat
operation [2, 6]. Few passive techniques such as phase between adsorbent beds, and allows for a miniature adsorption
change heat storage [7], evaporative cooling [8], fluid system. The TE device performance directly affects the COP
circulation [9], etc need a working substance such as of the overall system [1], hence the vital importance of TE
evaporative fluid and phase change material. Such systems are device reliability. It has been shown that TE device
limited in their thermal management capability by the amount performance in pumping heat across a temperature difference
of working substance they carry. Continuous operation gradually decreases with increasing temperature of application
requires frequent recharge/ refills. Thermal insulation [10] is [11]. For a typical harsh environment application (heat
simple to implement, but while it prevents ambient heat from rejection temperature of 200 0C and heat source temperature of
reaching electronics, it also prevents escape of heat dissipated 150 0C), temperature at adsorbent beds can reach upto 250 0C,
by electronics. which is close to the operating limits of commercially
available TE devices, hence the need to reduce the highest
The characteristics of an adsorption cooling system and its temperature in an adsorption cycle. With a view to mitigate
comparison with various other cooling techniques (as these challenges, Sinha et al [6] proposed to carry out
described in the paragraphs above), make it attractive as a adsorption and desorption in two-steps to reduce thermal
thermal management option for conditions that require variations during the adsorption cycle and bring down the
compactness, reliability and continuous active cooling. Such highest temperature encountered. High temperature
requirements need to be met for cooling electronics in a experiments on an adsorption heat pump prototype that used
thermally harsh environment [6, 11-12]. Zeolite-Water (instead of Silica Gel-Water [1, 2]) as
adsorbent-adsorbate pair were performed and reported in the
Several industrial processes that involve a thermally harsh literature [12] by Sinha et al. The adsorption-desorption
environment (figure 1), need availability of high temperature processes were carried out in single step. In this paper, the
(>150 0C) compatible electronics, however current state of the authors have reported performance of a system similar to the
art in electronics packing technologies suggests that this will one used earlier [12], but with adsorption and desorption
need further research [13-15]. Current industry practices processes broken in two-steps.
include, using custom made electronic modules that are pre-
tested for survivability above 175 0C [16, 17] and/or In the subsequent sections the working of the adsorption heat
incorporating passive thermal management technologies for pump with TE device assisted heat regeneration has been
short-term operation [7-10]. These practices reduce electronics described, followed by an explanation of challenges that can
reliability and are usually not cost effective. With the need for crop up at higher temperatures. This is followed by a detailed
electronics application in a thermally harsh environment set to description of the schematic of the experimental prototype.
grow [18], and the availability of compatible electronic Experimental procedure and results are described
modules a distant reality, a thermal management technology subsequently.
suitable for a thermally harsh environment (150-250 0C) may
help increase operating envelope of existing electronics
towards a high temperature region. This is where adsorption
based cooling systems can play an important role.

WORKING OF A THERMOELECTRIC ADSORPTION adsorption in bed 1 (desorption in bed 2), valves 2, 4 would be
HEAT PUMP open, whereas the rest would be closed. During this phase
The TE-adsorption-cooling system discussed in detail in [1, 2, refrigerant vapors from evaporator are adsorbed in bed 1 and
6, 11 -12] has been shown in figure 2(a). The thermodynamic desorbed to condenser from bed 2. The heat released during
representation of the adsorption cycle in a single adsorbent exothermic adsorption process is pumped from bed 1 to bed 2
bed has been shown in figure 2(b) on a Clausius diagram. It by the TE device (also referred to as heat regeneration). In the
must be noted that a Clausius diagram is widely used to next phase all the valves are closed and bed 2 is cooled to
describe adsorption processes [19 -22]. In such a diagram the evaporator pressure, where as bed 1 is heated to condenser
negative reciprocal of temperature in adsorbent beds ( (1 / T ) ) pressure. TE device aids the transfer of heat from bed 2 to bed
is plotted on the abscissa. It must be noted that the value of 1 (heat recovery). Finally valves 1 and 3 are opened and the
rest kept closed. This allows adsorption of vapors from
(1 / T ) increases with increasing values of T .
evaporator into bed 2 and desorption of vapors from bed 1 to
Heat released to surroundings
condenser. Heat released during adsorption in bed 2 is now
pumped to bed 1 by the TE device. The beds thus reverse their
Condenser roles and the cycle repeats. TE device is used to transfer heat
Valve 1
Valve 4 from the exothermic adsorption process to the endothermic
desorption process (also called heat regeneration) and from
isosteric cooling process to the isosteric heating process (also
called heat recovery). It must be noted that heat regeneration
Capillary tube


TE devices
refers to transfer of heat from a bed at low to a bed at high
Bed 1

Bed 2

temperature, whereas heat recovery refers to heat transfer from

a bed at high temperature to a bed at low temperature.


Valve 2 Valve 3 APPLICATION
The temperature variation (thermal swing) and the highest
Evaporator temperature faced during the cycle (as shown in figure 3) pose
Fig (a)
challenges to the operation of TE device. It has been shown in
Heat from electronic chips an earlier work [11] that the performance of a TE device
decreases with increasing average of its hot and cold face
temperatures. In the case of low temperature application as
Desorption H
C G described by Gordon et al [1] and Ng et al [2], this is not
much of a concern as the highest temperatures encountered are
up to 80 0C, which is much lower than 250 0C, the temperature
that TE devices may face for a typical high temperature
Isosteric application. A modified cycle was proposed by the authors to
cooling mitigate these challenges. Figure 4 shows a Clausius diagram
recovery of the modified cycle superimposed on an unmodified cycle.
Occurrence of highest
cycle temperature
F Adsorption I PC

Fig (b)
Fig 2: (a) Schematic of the TE device assisted Adsorption system as

proposed by Gordon et al [1]. (b) Thermodynamic representation of

states of working fluid on a Clausius diagram. Fluids in both
adsorbent beds follow this cycle with a phase shift, such that
Desorption and Isosteric cooling in one of the beds respectively
accompany Adsorption and Isosteric heating in another. Heat
recovery is transfer of heat from process H-I in one bed to process F- PE
G in another. Heat regeneration is transfer of heat from process I-F in E F I
one bed to process G-H in another.
- (1/T) Thermal swing
One complete adsorption cycle comprises of four stages. (1.)
Adsorption, (2.) Isosteric-heating, (3.) Desorption and (4.)
Fig 3: Clausius diagram of an adsorption cycle showing thermal
Isosteric-cooling, in the same order. In a two bed adsorption swing (maximum temperature variation during the entire cycle) and
heat pump, the beds operate with a phase difference, such that the highest temperature encountered (also the highest regeneration
adsorption in one is accompanied by desorption in another, temperature at point H)
and isosteric heating in one is accompanied by isosteric
cooling in the other. Referring to figure 2(a)-(b), and assuming
temperature at H
An experimental set-up was fabricated and assembled
PC in our laboratory. The set up is the same as used in an earlier
C1 work [12], except for an extra evaporator unit. Figure 6 shows
PC1 G1 H1 the schematic of the set-up. A brief description of the parts of
the set up is given below.
Oil -bath

PE1 F1 I1

Capillary tube

TE Devices
P1 P2

Bed j
Bed i
- (1/T) Greater thermal swing

Less thermal swing

Fig 4: Modified cycle as suggested by the authors, superimposed on a

conventional cycle. The reduction in thermal swing and the retreat of
V1 P4
highest regeneration temperature at H towards a lower temperature
regime must be noted. V3
Evaporator 1
The proposed solution breaks the adsorption and desorption V6
stages into two steps, thus reducing the thermal swing and the V8
highest temperature observed during the cycle. The modified Evaporator 2 V7
cycle has two condensers and two evaporators. Though more
complex in realization than the un-modified (conventional)
cycle, the modified cycle will allow flexibility in distribution Resistive
of the cooling load among two evaporators at slightly different heater
temperatures. For experimental purpose however a slight To water fill station/
modification was done to accommodate a simple apparatus. vacuum pump
Instead of two condensers, only one condenser was chosen
while the number of evaporators was still maintained at two.
Oil- bath
Figure 5 describes the accompanying Clausius diagram for
such a case.

Bed j
Bed i
3 Way valve

F1 I1
PE1 heater
E1 Fig 6: (Top) Schematic diagram of the experimental set-up showing
condenser, evaporator(s), adsorbent beds and the refrigerant flow
loop. (Bottom) Schematic diagram of the cooling fluid loop through
- (1/T) Greater thermal swing the adsorbent beds. P1...4 are the pressure transducers. Valves V1..V5
are three way valves. valves V6-V9 are two way valves. V1 and V2
Less thermal swing help connect beds with either condenser or evaporator. Valves V3 and
V4 help measure evaporator and condenser inlet and outlet pressure
by using just two pressure transducers (P3 and P4). V5 helps connect
Thermal swing (slightly
greater) any one of evaporator with the adsorbent beds. V6 and V7 connect
Fig 5: Clausius diagram of a cycle (I-F-F1-G-H-I) with a single evaporators with capillary tube. V8 allows for water to pass from
condenser and two evaporator arrangement. The arrangement leads to evaporator 1 to 2 during filling operation. Also helps keep
a small increase in thermal swing. In this arrangement, process H-G1 evaporators isolated during operation. V9 provides a link to water
as shown in figure 4 is merged into process G-H by keeping the fill/ vacuum station.
desorbing bed exposed to condenser pressure.

Adsorbent Beds and Thermoelectric Assembly Evaporator and Condenser
The adsorption bed was made out of stainless steel shell and The evaporator is a partially water filled cylindrical stainless
copper plate. The steel shell had a semi-circular cross-section steel chamber with end caps designed to have provisions for
measuring 6.3 cm in diameter and 20 cm in length. Steel end refrigerant (water) inlet-outlet, capillary tube and vapor outlet
caps were provided on either end with provisions for vapor to adsorption beds and a resistive heater. The resistive heater
outlet/ inlet, resistive heater, thermal probe and cooling fluid simulates power dissipation by an electronic chip module. The
pipes. Perforated fins were brazed on to the inward face of the condenser is realized by coiled steel tubing (1m in length, with
copper plate for efficient heat transfer into the zeolite mass. an inner and outer diameter of 4.8and 6.4 mm respectively)
Fins were perforated so that the vapor transport inside bed immersed in an oil bath (glycol based heat transfer fluid with
should not be hindered. Figure 7 shows a cut out view of the the commercial name Duratherm G). The refrigerant circuit
adsorption bed. Copper plate was brazed to the steel casing for between the condenser and evaporator was completed by a
a pressure tight enclosure. Zeolite-13X beads measuring 1.58 steel-tubing (diameter 1/16th of an inch), which acted as an
mm in diameter (SYLOBEAD-514 from Grace Davison) was expansion valve.
used to fill up the space inside the bed. Five TE devices (HT8-
7-30 from Laird Technologies) were placed on the copper face Harsh Environment
and sandwiched between two beds. Thermal interface pads The condenser assembly was placed inside an oven. The oven
(Gap Pad 500S35 from Bergquist Company) were used to was equipped with a temperature control unit that enabled
provide thermal connection between the copper and the TE precise control of heat rejection temperature. For the rest of
device surfaces. the set up (comprising of adsorbent beds, evaporator and
tubing work) that was placed outside the oven for easy
handling during experiment, the simulation of harsh
Steel casing temperature was achieved by pre-heating and keeping the heat
trapped by heavy insulation.
Cooling fluid pipes

Table 1: Some key parameters of the adsorption bed

Copper plate Mb (b = i,j) 1.2176 kg

Perforated copper fins
Cpb (b = i,j) 454.93 J-kg-1-K-1
Inert thermal mass = Mb x Cpb 553.92 J-K-1
Mz b (b = i,j) 0.185 kg
CpZ 1000 J-kg-1-K-1
Active thermal mass = Mz b x CpZ 185 J-K-1
Inert mass ratio = (Mz b x CpZ )/(Mz b x CpZ) 0.33
b ( b = i,j) 96
TE devices
Ub ambient (b = i,j) 0.1 W-K-1
Number of TE devices sandwiched in between
beds 5

Bed j Table 2: Some key parameters of the evaporator and


Bed i
Me 0.73 kg
Cpe 500 J-kg-1-K-1
Mc 0.42 kg
Cpc 500 J-kg-1-K-1
Fig 7: (Top) A cut-out section of the adsorption bed. The cooling fluid e 411
lines and perforated fins attached to copper plate could be seen here. Ue ambient 0.063 W-K-1
(Middle) Back view of the bed, which includes the copper plates and
Uc oilbath 3.5 W-K-1
TE devices attached with the help of a thermal interface material.
(Bottom) Two adsorbent beds close together with TE device
sandwiched in between.

Table 3: Some key parameters of the TE device Table 5: Operating conditions for the two-step modified
adsorption cycle.
i_te (thermal mass of TE device face adjacent to
bed i. Ceramic plate made up of Al2O3) 2.76 J-K-1 Step # Heat Valve Valve Valve Valve Valve
j_te (thermal mass of TE device face adjacent to (time) pumped 1 2 5 6 7
bed j. Ceramic plate made up of Al2O3) 3.13 J-K-1 TE volts from
N 71 Step 1 bed i to evap - bed j - to evap1 closed
-2 (4mins) bed j bed i cond evap1
G 0.171x10
thi te 0.76 K-W-1 Step 2 bed j to closed bed j - to evap1 closed
thj te 0.76 K-W-1 (2mins) bed i cond evap1
= 4.35x10-8x Tavg-2.754x10-6 ; Tavg = (Ti
te + Tj te)/2
-5 2
Step 3 bed i to evap - bed j - to closed evap2
kte= 2.91x10 xTavg -0.019xTavg+4.81 ; (4mins) bed j bed i cond evap2
= -2.025x10-9xTavg2+1.42x10-6x Tavg-4.49x10-5; 6V
Step 4 bed j to closed closed to closed evap2
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE (2mins) bed i evap2
To start the experiment, the oven (housing the condenser unit)
Step 5 bed j to evap - bed i - to evap1 closed
is heated to the condenser temperature. The resistive heaters
(4mins) bed i bed j cond evap1
inside the bed are also activated to heat the bed to a 6V
temperature somewhere in between evaporator and condenser Step 6 bed i to closed bed i - to evap1 closed
temperatures (~145 0C). This process desorbs some moisture (2mins) bed j cond evap1
content in the beds. Further the set-up is evacuated by a 3V
vacuum pump. Desorbed vapors along with the non- Step 7 bed j to evap - bed i - to closed evap2
condensable air inside the set-up are driven out. Degassed (4mins) bed i bed j cond evap2
water is introduced into the evaporator and the evaporator- 6V
heater is switched on. Once the evaporator reaches a Step 8 bed i to closed closed to closed evap2
temperature in the vicinity of 140 0C, applying suitable (2mins) bed j evap2
voltage across the TE device, and operating the valves that
connect the beds to evaporator and condenser, initiate the
adsorption cycle. However, since the condenser pressure starts Table 6: Operating conditions for the single-step
to build up from near vacuum conditions, the expansion valve conventional adsorption cycle.
(small diameter capillary tube) connecting the condenser and
evaporator is not opened for refrigerant flow until the
condenser pressure rises above that of evaporator. The Direction of
TE heat pump
experiment is carried till the time that a steady behavior is
Time device by TE
observed in the temperature variation of the evaporator (i.e. (mins) voltage device Valve 1 Valve 2
the rise in temperature of evaporator is less than 1 0C per
hour). evap - cond -
Step 1 8 6V bed i - bed j bed i bed j
In subsequent sections results have been presented for a case Step 2 4 3V bed j - bed i closed closed
where the experiments were started with the following initial evap - cond -
(table 4) and operating conditions (table 5 and 6). Tables 5 and Step 3 8 6V bed j - bed i bed j bed i
6 show one complete block of operations that are repeated as Step 4 4 3V bed I - bed j closed closed
the experiment continues. For the two-step cycle, steps 1-8 are
repeated cyclically and likewise for the single-step cycle, steps
1-4 are repeated cyclically. The experiments were designed The easy adaptability of the experimental set up for single
such that repetitive block for both cycles take same amount of step conventional adsorption cycle allowed experiments to
time (i.e 24 minutes). Since there are two beds involved, the be performed for both modified (two-step) and conventional
cycle time for both cycles was 12 minutes. (single step) adsorption cycles. It must be noted that while
Table 4: Initial conditions operating for the modified cycle, valves 8 and 9 always
remained close. During operation as conventional cycle, one
Water content in each evaporator 350 ml of the evaporator (evaporator 1) was isolated by making V5
Water content in the condenser 0 ml connect to evaporator 2, closing V6 and keeping V7 open.
Temperature in evaporators 145 0C
Heat rejection temperature 188 0C
Temperature of adsorbent beds 150 0C

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS transducer always measured the pressure of evaporator
connected to an adsorbing bed.

Figure 10 compares the temperature behavior of a two-step

(modified) adsorption cycle with a single-step (conventional)
adsorption cycle for the same time duration. It can be observed
that the bed temperatures in the single step adsorption cycle
are higher than that of the 2-step adsorption cycle. The thermal
swing (or the difference between extremes of temperature
observed in a bed) is also lower for the 2-step adsorption
cycle. The evaporator temperature in the single step
adsorption cycle is slightly higher than the temperature of the
two evaporators in the 2-step adsorption cycle.

Fig 8: Temperature at various components of the two-step adsorption

cooling system at near steady state condition.

Fig 10: Comparison of temperature at beds and evaporator(s) for a

modified (2-step) and a conventional (1-step) cycle.

Fig 9: Pressure at various components of the two-step adsorption

cooling system at near steady state condition.
Figures 8 and 9 depict the temperature and pressure behavior,
respectively, of the two-step adsorption cycle at steady state
conditions. The peaks (and dips) in the temperature of a bed,
which also corresponds to peaks (and dips) in the pressure of
the respective beds represent the process of pressurization
(isosteric heating) and depressurization (isosteric cooling)
respectively. Pressurization is followed by desorption and
depressurization is followed by adsorption. The two
evaporator temperature plots in figure 8 are noteworthy as
they show the two evaporators at slightly different
temperature. Figure 9 contains only one pressure plot for the Fig 11: Comparison of power input to TE devices for single as well
as two-step cycle experiments.
evaporator because a single pressure transducer was used to
measure the pressure for both evaporators. The pressure
The main advantage of the 2-step cycle lies in the reduction in introduced due to leakage, and experiment errors thereof.
highest temperature and a drop in thermal swing for the Measured pressure was nearly 30% less than the expected
adsorption beds. For both (2-step and single-step) saturation pressure, thus pointing towards air leakage into the
experiments, the adsorption beds were heated to and system and the presence of leakage paths in the overall set up.
maintained at 145 0C before the start of the experiment. Hence Air can leak into the system during experiment start up phase
whatever heat was provided by the resistive heaters was when the bed and condenser pressures are less than
completely lost to ambient through insulation at the initial atmospheric pressure. While the system pressure is greater
steady state temperature. Any change in bed temperatures after than atmospheric pressure, vapor is expelled out of the system,
the initiation of experiment was due to the alternate heating thus leading to spurious cooling. A comparison of the
and cooling performed by TE device. Hence, in order to mathematical model with expected experiment results [12]
conclusively prove the advantage of 2-step cycle over single- indicates that the spurious cooling could be as high as 40% of
step, it must be shown that during the course of the the total cooling observed.
experiment, both cycles were provided the same amount of
average energy per unit time by TE device. Figure 11 Another reason for the low system COP could be the low
compares the electrical power input to TE device for both specific cooling capacity. For the system investigated nearly
cycles. From the figure it can be observed that the area 6W could be pumped using 370g of zeolite. Implying a
enclosed under both the power plots for a time interval of one specific cooling capacity of 16.21 W/kg. This compares
cycle time (i.e. 12 minutes: ref section 5) is the same. poorly with the system investigated by Ng et al [2], which was
able to pump 120W with 0.6kg of silica gel, implying a
specific cooling capacity of 200 W/kg.

Apart from performance, another measure of the suitability of

the system is its compactness. The system must be compact
enough to fit within electronic enclosures. For this purpose, a
comparison of the thermoelectric-adsorption compressor
(2200cc) was made with commercially available compressors
that are used in the assembly of vapor compression systems
for electronics (table 7).
Table 7: Volume of various commercially available
mechanical compressors that have been used for electronics
cooling [23].

Commercial name of Compressor Volume (cm3)

Danfoss BD35F 2229.3
Danfoss BD50F 2229.3
Danfoss TL4CL 3766.7
Fig 12: Net power input to the various components of the systems. Danfoss FR8.4CL 4860.4
Plots have been made for both single-step and two-step adsorption Danfoss NF9FX 3671.3
cycle experiments.
Figure 12 compares the net energy input to the beds and TE Need for reliable thermal management systems for cooling
devices with the heat dissipated at the evaporator(s). This has electronics used in thermally harsh environment is set to grow
been shown for single-step as well as two-step adsorption due to the non availability of high temperature compatible
cycles. Net energy refers to total electrical energy input, less electronics. Cooling systems that could be scaled to smaller
the energy lost as heat leakage through insulations. Under sizes without loss of efficiency, made compact enough to fit
steady state the ratio of heat dissipated at evaporator(s) and the inside electronic enclosures, be able to work continuously for
net energy input to beds and TE devices should be an an extended period of time without any maintenance issue,
indication of the overall system COP. The COP obtained for will best fit the needs of harsh environment application.
the single step and two-step adsorption cycles are 0.28 and Adsorption systems (with thermoelectric driven heat
0.35 respectively. This is much less than the COP of 1.2 and regeneration in between beds), by the virtue of their non-
0.7 as reported by Gordon et al [1] and Ng et al [2] mechanical mode of operation, can fulfill the needs of such a
respectively. This could be because of the high temperature of cooling system. Experiments using thermoelectric- adsorption
application and leakage issues associated with the set up. It chillers for electronics cooling (reported in literature) are
must be noted that for calculation in this paper, loss of already a step ahead in this direction, however their
refrigerant vapor through leakages in the system was not taken application at thermally harsh environment faces challenges in
into account. The saturation pressure of water at heat rejection terms of TE device reliability. At high temperatures TE
temperature was compared with the measured condenser devices that play a critical role in miniaturization of
pressure to gain an insight into amount of non-condensable air regenerative adsorption heat pump, become the weakest link
in the overall system reliability. The two-step adsorption cycle [10] Parrot et al, US Patent Number 6,336,408. Available
as suggested in the work aims at reducing the temperature online at www.uspto.gov, 1999.
variations at the hot and cold faces of a TE device and at the [11] A Sinha and Y. K. Joshi, Thermoelectric Assisted
same time reduces the overall temperature that the hot side Adsorption Cooling System For Harsh Environment
may face during regeneration. This has the effect of improving Electronics: Issues With Heat Regeneration, ASME
the overall cycle efficiency. InterPACK Conference, San Francisco, USA, 2009.
[12] A Sinha and Y. K. Joshi, Performance of
Experiments were performed with a prototype adsorption Thermoelectric Based Regenerative Adsorption
cooling system with TE driven heat regeneration. Results Cooling System For Harsh Environment, ASME
show an improvement in COP over the single-step adsorption IMECE Conference, Orlando, FL, 2009.
cycle and decrease in temperature variations across the TE [13] Braun et al, High Temperature Potential of Flip Chip
device. Assemblies for Automotive Applications, Proceedings
of Electronic Components and Technology Conference,
The work presented should be important in extending the Vol 55, Issue 31, pp. 376-383, 2005.
application of adsorption chillers with thermoelectric driven [14] M. R. Werner and W. R. Fahrner, Review on
heat regeneration towards higher temperature regime. This Materials, Microsensors, Systems, and Devices for
should also help increase the working envelope of High-Temperature and Harsh-Environment
commercially available electronics towards a thermally Applications, IEEE Transactions on Industrial
harsher environment. Electronics, Vol 48, No 2, pp, 249-257, April 2001.
[15] Johnson et al, The Changing Automotive
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Environment: High-Temperature Electronics, IEEE
Support received from GWW School of Mechanical Transactions on Electronics Packaging and
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