Space science instruments require dedicated/localized cooling to meet their stringent requirements. TECs have the advantage of small size, long life, solid state design, and no moving parts or fluid operation. Improving the efficiency of TECs and enabling them to provide the cold temperatures needed by certain types of space science instruments would be an enhancing, or possibly an enabling, technology. Based on the 2015 NASA Technology Roadmap, programs the concept could impact include Explorer, Earth Venture Suborbital, DRM 6 (Crewed to Near Earth Asteroid), DRM 7 (Crewed to Lunar Surface), and DRM 8 & 9 (Crewed to Mars Moons and Mars Surface).
Thermoelectric coolers (TECs) are used throughout the military, aerospace, electronics, and consumer products industries. Their compact construction, quiet operation, long lifetimes, and lack of moving parts makes them the preferred choice for refrigeration applications. The commercial potential of the laminate TEC device is extremely large, with residential refrigeration alone being a large untapped market. These market segments are dependent on traditional vapor compression technology, which has the disadvantages of weight, noise, moderate reliability, and the use of environmentally-unfriendly refrigerants. Thermoelectric coolers could provide localized cooling (and heating) capability in a lightweight, compact, convenient form factor, characterized by low noise, essentially no maintenance, ease of installation, and no use of environmentally harmful working fluids. In summary, the market potential of the laminate TEC approach is enormous, while offering a significant civic and environmental benefit, as well.