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MORE APPLICATIONS FOR THERMO ELECTRON TECHNOLOGIES CORP.'S ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND COOLING MODULES

 MORE APPLICATIONS FOR THERMO ELECTRON TECHNOLOGIES CORP.'S
 ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND COOLING MODULES
 SAN DIEGO, Calif., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- For several years, Thermo Electron Technologies Corp. (TTC) has been manufacturing thermoelectric cooling modules, devices that make portable refrigeration and the cooling of very small, localized areas (within electronic equipment, for instance) practical. Now, TTC researchers have come up with a proprietary method of making these devices even tougher so that they can be used in more hostile environments. This improvement translates into an increase in potential applications and, consequently, potential growth of the market, now about $40 million annually.
 Thermoelectric cooling modules are found in everything from mobile home refrigerators to fiberoptic telecommunications equipment, where they control the temperature of internal components. In addition to consumer and electronic applications, thermoelectric cooling modules also keep biologic samples cool while they are being analyzed in certain types of laboratory equipment.
 Previously, these devices generally could not withstand a severe impact, such as being dropped from a workbench to a hard floor. Also, vibration and corrosion failures limited the use of thermoelectric cooling modules in automotive, marine, and industrial applications. TTC has applied for a patent on a new process that overcomes these limitations, and all three areas now represent potential markets.
 TTC's "ruggedizing" process is so effective that a prototype containing a ruggedized thermoelectric cooling module was able to withstand being dropped from an eighth-floor window and being run over with a pickup truck. The devices have also been successfully tested in seawater, organic solvents, and acid solutions.
 One of the more unusual applications for thermoelectric cooling modules involves portable coolers, the type you can take on a picnic or to the beach. Instead of packing the contents in ice or ice packs, you plug the cooler into the car's cigarette lighter, which turns the cooler into a mini-refrigerator. Once you reach your destination, the cooler's insulation will keep the contents cold for a few hours. Or, if you happen to be near an electric outlet, (using an adapter) you can plug the cooler in.
 Thermoelectric cooling modules typically contain semiconductor elements, which are made of a brittle, mechanically weak material. TTC researchers produced stronger modules by hermetically sealing the module and each semiconductor element in a special patent-pending material. In addition to protecting the elements, this process also imparts a degree of mechanical strength to the module that is at least an order of magnitude greater than that possessed by competitors' thermoelectric modules.
 For some applications, thermoelectric cooling modules are an option rather than a necessity. It is possible, for example, to cool a portable refrigerator with a conventional, compressor-type system. But thermoelectric cooling modules offer a more environmentally sound alternative because they operate without using CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which have been linked to atmospheric ozone depletion.
 Additional efforts are under way at TTC to further improve thermoelectric cooling modules. These efforts include the development of better semiconductor materials, as well as the incorporation of radically new manufacturing methods to reduce production costs. With the improvements already made and those under development, TTC anticipates playing a major role in the future manufacture of thermoelectric cooling modules.
 -0- 12/12/91
 /CONTACT: John N. Hatsopoulos of Thermo Electron, 617-622-1111/ CO: Thermo Electron Technologies ST: California, Massachusetts IN: HOU SU:


KM -- NE004 -- 1891 12/12/91 11:15 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 12, 1991
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