Comparison of Thermoelectric and Stirling Type Cryocoolers Using Control Thermodynamic Model
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New efforts are underway to develop thermoelectric materials for cooling of infrared detectors at cryogenic temperatures. Stirling type cryocoolers routinely produce cooling at cryogenic temperatures with good efficiency, but challenges remain in their miniaturization, reliability and vibration reduction for space applications. In this study, a thermodynamic comparison of Stirling type and Thermoelectric (TE) cryocoolers is made for a typical second stage cryogenic refrigerator (30 K to 80 K). It is assumed that a reservoir at 80 K is available and a cooling load at 40 K is desired. It is shown that under the assumption of availability of TE materials with a reasonably high figure of merit, a multistage TE cryocooler is required. For comparison of the performance of the cryocoolers, thermodynamic models of the Stirling type and multistage TE cryocoolers are developed. The effect of important system parameters on the performance of the cryocoolers is presented. The thermal design challenges of miniaturization of Stirling Type cryocoolers and the development of multistage TE cryocoolers with high efficiency are discussed.