Causality in thermoelectric systems: Insights from block diagrams
Lycée Jacques Prévert, F-27500, Pont-Audemer, France
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Accepted: 23 November 2016
Published online: 19 December 2016
While Carnot's model engines demonstrate ideal performances regarding conversion efficiency, they cannot be actually used as energy converters since they are non-causal systems. Such an unphysical behavior indeed restrains the working conditions to a single point where, in the case of a refrigerator (generator), the cooling power (output power) vanishes. Focusing on the example of a thermoelectric refrigerator, we study the impact of different dissipation sources on the causality of such systems. Basing our analysis on the block diagram description of this system, we discuss particularly the fact that heat conduction cannot ensure causality.
© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2016