Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Civil engineering

Publication Details

7th International High Performance Buildings Conference at Purdue, July 10 – 14, 2022


To provide energy-efficient space heating and cooling, a thermoelectric building envelope (TBE) embeds thermoelectric devices in building walls. The thermoelectric device in the building envelope can provide active heating and cooling without requiring refrigerant use and energy transport among subsystems. Thus, the TBE system is energy and environmentally friendly. A few studies experimentally investigated the TBE under limited operating conditions, and only simplified models for the commercial thermoelectric module (TEM) were developed to quantify its performance. A holistic approach to optimum system performance is needed for the optimal system design and operation. The study developed a holistic TBE-building system model in Modelica for system simulation and performance analysis. A theoretical model for a single TEM was first established based on energy conversion and thermoelectric principles. Subsequently, a TBE prototype model combining the TEM model was constructed. The prototype model employing a feedback controller was used in a whole building system simulation for a residential house. The system model computed the overall building energy efficiency and dynamic indoor conditions under varying operating conditions. Simulation results indicate the studied TBE system can meet a heating demand to maintain the desired room temperature at 20 °C when the lowest outdoor temperature is at -26.3 degrees C, with a seasonal heating COP near 1.1, demonstrating a better heating performance than electric heaters. It suggests a potential energy-efficient alternative to the traditional natural gas furnaces and electric heaters for space heating.



This research is supported through a US-Ireland grant tri-funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF, 1805818), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI, 17/US/3424), and the Department for the Economy of Northern Ireland (DfE, USI 127).