An analytical study was conducted to determine the feasibility of employing solar energy assisted thermoelectric (TE) cooling technology in automobile air conditioners. The study addressed two key issues—power requirements and availability of thermoelectric materials. In this paper, a mathematical model was developed to predict the performance of TE air conditioners and to analyze power consumption. Results show that the power required to deliver a cooling capacity of 4 kW (13,680 Btu/h) in a 38°C (100°F) environment will be 9.5 kW electric. Current TE modules suitable for air conditioning are made of bismuth telluride. The element tellurium is expected to be in short supply if TE cooling is widely implemented for auto air conditioning; some options available in this regard were studied and presented in this paper. The photovoltaic (PV) cells, assumed to cover the roof area of a compact car, can only generate about 225 W. However, this is more than enough to power a fan to provide air ventilation to the car interior, which significantly reduces the peak cooling load when the car is parked in bright sunlight.

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