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DE VELO PMENT THERMAL MANAGEMENT

THERMOELECTRIC HEAT PUMP


FOR LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES
The thermoelectric heat pump is an attractive alternative to conventional methods used
to control the temperature of lithium-ion batteries and other vehicle sub-assemblies. In
addition to ensuring efficient temperature control, Mahle Behrs design concept of these
heat exchangers operating independently of the refrigerant circuit includes optimisation
in terms of durability, cost, weight and package size.

40

AUTHORS

DR.-ING. MANUEL WEHOWSKI


is Project Manager in the
Central Advanced Engineering
of Mahle Behr GmbH & Co. KG
in Stuttgart (Germany).

DR.-ING. JRGEN GRNWALD


is Project Manager in the
Central Advanced Engineering
of Mahle Behr GmbH & Co. KG
in Stuttgart (Germany).

DIPL.-ING. CHRISTIAN HENEKA


is Project Manager in the
Central Advanced Engineering
of Mahle Behr GmbH & Co. KG
in Stuttgart (Germany).

DR. RER. NAT. DIRK NEUMEISTER


is Head of Systems/Concepts
in the Central Advanced Engineering
of Mahle Behr GmbH & Co. KG
in Stuttgart (Germany).

BASICS

Lithium-ion cells are used as energy storage devices in the


traction batteries of electric and hybrid vehicles and also in
auxiliary units of internal combustion engine vehicles. Since
they heat up during use and in extreme climatic conditions,
they have to be kept within a certain temperature range by
means of temperature control systems in order to maintain
their service life in the long term [1, 2].
Along with conventional temperature control methods using
air, coolant, and refrigerant, the principle of the thermoelectric
heat pump can be applied to the heating and cooling of lithiumion batteries.
The thermoelectric heat pump (TEHP) is based on the Peltier
effect, so that heat is pumped from a cold to a hot side. This
heat pump effect is achieved using thermoelectric modules
(TEM) comprising semiconductor elements electrically contacted in series and alternately p- and n-doped. These TEMs
create a temperature gradient which, depending on the direction and strength of current, can be used for heating or cooling
purposes.
Other factors involved in thermoelectric modules along with
the Peltier effect are the Joule heating and heat conduction.
Whereas electrical resistance causes heating of the TEM (Joule
heating), heat conduction in the TEM creates a heat flux from
the hot to the cold side in the opposite direction to the active
heat flux of the Peltier effect.
.
Eq. 1 shows the correlation between cooling power Q c, heat.
ing power Q h, and electric power Pel with a good level of approximation in the temperature range of practical relevance. The
relevant parameters, along with the material- and temperaturedependent Seebeck coefficient Se, are the electrical resistance
R, the current intensity I, and the heat transfer from the cold
to the hot side kA at the respective surface temperatures (cold
side: Tc; hot side: Th). The temperature control efficiency is
described by the coefficient of performance or COP (for cooling:
COPc/for heating: COPh).

EQ. 1

.
.
Pel = Q h Q c = (ThTc)*Se*I + I2*R where
.
Q c = Tc*Se*I I2*R/2 k*A*T
.
Q h = Th*Se*I + I2*R/2 k*A*T
.
COPc = Q c / Pel
.
COPh = Q h / Pel = COPc + 1

THERMOELECTRIC HEAT EXCHANGERS

The selection of suitable TEMs is decisive for effective temperature control. Also, in view of the marked impact of the temperature difference on the COP, it is essential to ensure good heat
transfer between the TEM and the hot or cold side in order to
achieve efficient operation. To do this, it is advisable to provide
a good thermal connection between TEM and heat source/sink,
and, for fluid media, good heat transfer between the fluid and
the fluid ducting.
When designing a heat exchanger as a thermoelectric heat
pump, it is necessary not only to ensure the energy-efficient
operation of the device but also to maintain a highly durable
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DE VELO PMENT THERMAL MANAGEMENT

Thermohydraulic Biss-simulations

component that is optimised in terms of


cost, weight, and package size. Behr is
currently developing thermoelectric heat
exchangers for various heating and
cooling applications. Here the TEMs
are in thermal contact with at least one
fluid (usually coolant or air) and/or in
direct contact with the component
requiring temperature control. The
supply voltage is variable, but voltage
levels of 12 to 60 V can be used to good
effect.
The TEHP development process at
Behr involves measuring both performance data of individual thermoelectric
modules and heat transfer processes of
bonding layers. These data are used for
the representation of thermoelectric heat
exchangers in the thermohydraulic simu-

(a)

TXV-SO

lation tool Biss (Behr Integrated System


Simulation) [3]. This tool is used to simulate the thermoelectric behavior of heat
exchangers with any kind of fluid ducting and solid connections integrated into
an overall system including both steadystate and transient simulations, . Thermohydraulic measurements of heat
exchangers are carried out on specifically constructed thermoelectric test
benches to validate the simulation
model.
Two TEHP variants integrated into an
overall system with a lithium-ion battery
requiring temperature control are discussed in the following by comparing
them with one another and with a conventional chiller and a low-temperature
radiator system.

(b)

(c)

LT-radiator

LT-radiator

LT-radiator

Condenser

Condenser

Condenser

HVACevaporator

TXV

HVACevaporator

TXV

HVACevaporator

Primary circuit

TXV-SO

Chiller

Primary circuit

Battery

Battery

Battery

Tempering
plate

Tempering
plate

TETP

el. Heating

Chiller cooling system (a); thermoelectric heat pump (coolant conditioner (b) / temperature control plate (c))

42

shows the thermoelectric temperature


control plate (TETP) in direct thermal
contact with a battery to be cooled/
heated. TEMs control the battery temperature to a level that can be lower than
the ambient temperature. The hot waste
heat side of the TEMs has to be cooled in
turn via a cooling circuit (primary circuit). A pump conveys the cooling
medium through the TETP and the lowtemperature radiator (LTR) for heat dissipation into the ambient air, and optionally through further components requiring cooling. There is no direct coupling
with the vehicle air conditioning circuit.
A shorter coolant line length and a
smaller number of valves are necessary
compared to a chiller system. An especially beneficial feature is the heat conduction path between the TEMs and the
battery. The minimised temperature difference between the cold and hot side
allows efficient temperature control.
Intelligent, cost-effective measures are
implemented to ensure uniform temperatures and heat flux densities over the
entire surface area of the plate.

THERMOELECTRIC COOLANT
CONDITIONER

TECC

Secondary circuit

THERMOELECTRIC TEMPERATURE
CONTROL PLATE

shows a thermoelectric coolant condi-

tioner (TECC) placed between two coolant circuits for the cooling and heating
of a battery. In the primary circuit, the
coolant conveyed by a first coolant pump
is passed through an LTR and the primary side of the coolant conditioner. In

the secondary circuit, a second pump


conveys the coolant through the secondary side of the TECC and a tempering
plate which is in direct thermal contact
with the battery. Further components
requiring temperature control can be
integrated into the primary circuit.
One of the advantages of the coolant
conditioner is the spatial separation of
the thermoelectric component from the
battery. This means that no changes to
the interface between battery and tempering plate are required, thus avoiding
any need to increase the size of the tempering plate. Because of the decentralised positioning of the TECC in the available package space, there is no need to
adjust for different batteries. The modular construction of the coolant conditioner allows the simple and economical
accommodation of a wide range of power
classes. It also eliminates the need for
temperature homogenisation which
exists where TEMs are placed directly
on the tempering plate surface.
SYSTEM COMPARISON

7 K between Tair and TBat,max is based on the


heat conduction path in the LTR system.
With the chiller system, battery cooling
depends on the air conditioning of the
vehicle. Since the temperature of the refrigerant in the chiller is generally <10 C, a
large quantity of power is drawn off from
the battery when the battery cooling system function is on. To prevent excessive
battery cooling, an active control such as
a two-step control is required. Because of
chiller TXV switching, this can cause
oscillations in the refrigerant circuit, .
In contrast, with both heat pump systems, the maximum battery temperature
is maintained at approx. 30 C using an
active current flow.

the COP, so the COPs shown are to be


regarded as guidelines only.
Lower battery waste heat levels (100 W)
tend to result in a higher COP. When the
battery cooling system is switched on,
the COP decreases and progressively
approaches a steady value. Steady-state
COPs of up to 2 are achieved with waste
heat levels of 150 W as compared with
coefficients of around 2.5 with waste
heat levels of 100 W.
The following relations also apply:
: The lower the ambient air temperature, the higher the COP. Although
high air temperatures mean low COPs
even in extreme cases, sufficient cooling is still achieved.
: In general, COPs of >1 are achieved in
heating situations. The heating COP is
increased by 1 compared to the cooling COP at the same temperature difference and current flow.
: Optimum COP for TEHPs can be varied via the number of TEMs. Increasing the number of TEMs boosts the
COP, but it also increases costs,
weight, and package space.

COEFFICIENT OF PERFORMANCE
(COP)
shows simulated COP curves for

both TEHPs for battery waste heat levels


.
Q Bat = 100 W and 150 W. Varying the
simulation parameters accepted as realistic (for example the thermal heat conduction path) has a direct impact on

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.
Q Bat = 150 W
Tair = 35 C

40

35

LTR system
30

TEWP system
Chiller system

25

20
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

Time [s]
Maximum battery temperatures

4.0
COP simulations for
coolant conditioner
& temp. control plate
Tair = 35 C

3.5
3.0
COPcool [-]

of the maximum battery temperature


TBat,max for the two heat pump systems,
a chiller system, and an LTR system with
.
a battery waste heat of Q Bat = 150 W,
respectively. In the latter system, the
coolant is conveyed through an LTR and
a cooling plate in the bottom-cooled battery by a pump (bottom surface area:
ABat = 550 cm2).
All simulations have an air mass flow
of 8 kg/min flowing through an identical
LTR (cross-sectional area Aq 6 dm2) with
an air temperature of Tair = 35 C. In the
coolant conditioner system, the primary
circuit pump conveys a volume flow of
600 l/h compared with 120 l/h in the other
cooling circuits. The simulations take
account of the thermal inertia of the coolant and of realistic heat conduction paths
for both the battery and the battery/TEM
connection.
The simulations start at a homogeneous
maximum permissible battery temperature
of 30 C. At this threshold the battery cooling function of the chiller and TEHP variants is switched on. Cooling of the LTR
system only begins at TBat = Tair = 35 C.
In the LTR system, and with permanent
cooling, the maximum battery temperature remains steady at a temperature of
42 C, . The temperature difference of

Maximal battery temperature [C]

shows transient simulation results

2.5
2.0
1.5

100 W

1.0

150 W

0.5
0.0
0

200

400

600
Time [s]

800

1000

1200

Cooling COP ranges for TEHP with Tair = 35 C and Q Bat = 100 W/150 W

43

DE VELO PMENT Thermal management

COMPARISON HEAT PUMP AND


CHILLER SYSTEM

The independent and functionally specific control of thermoelectric heat


pumps using TEMs helps them to operate efficiently. In chiller systems, the
dependence between cabin and battery
temperature control via the refrigerant
circuit causes feedback in the other subsystem, especially when the two-step
control is shifted. This can cause effects
ranging from instability in the refrigerant circuit to noticeable changes in the
evaporator air outlet temperature in the
vehicle cabin. The decoupling of temperature control tasks in TEHPs avoids control adjustments and simplifies the design
of the air conditioning circuit, for exam-

44

ple by eliminating the TXV shut-off


f unction. Also, no additional capacity is
required in the A/C compressor for battery cooling purposes.
One of the major benefits of TEHP technology is that both cooling and heating
functions can be performed with a single
component by reversing the TEM polarity.
In contrast, with a chiller system, the
heating function can only be provided by
means of an auxiliary heating system.
SUMMARY

A thermoelectric heat pump is a single


component for both heating and cooling
batteries at very low and very high temperatures, with COPs of >1 over wide
operating ranges.

Basically, thermoelectric temperature


control is feasible in all power categories.
In view of the direct correlation between
useful output power and the number of
TEMs and cost, the use of a TEHP is
appropriate for cooling and heating
power levels in the range of <1 kW.
REFERENCES
[1] Stripf, M.; Wehowski, M.; Schmid, C.; Wiebelt,
A.: Thermomanagement von Hochleistungs-Li-IonenBatterien. In: ATZ 114 (2012), No. 1, pp. 52-56
[2] Neumeister, D.; Wiebelt, A., and Heckenberger,
T.: Systemeinbindung einer Lithium-Ionen-Batterie
in Hybrid- und Elektroautos. In: ATZ 112 (2010),
No. 4, pp. 250-255
[3] Gneiting, R.; Heckenberger, T., Sauer, C.: Virtual
Thermal Management in Cars Requirements and
Implementation. 6 th FKFS Conference on Progress
in Vehicle Aerodynamics and Thermal Management,
2007

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