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Interesting Stories II About Thermoelectricity
No2: Surprisingly a lot of developments in the past…How many products are still alive?
Since Komatsu Electronic Industry, the forerunner of KELK Ltd., spun off from the parent company Komatsu Ltd. in 1960 aiming at commercialization of thermoelectric elements, about 30 products have been developed based on plans brought in from customers or our own ideas. There were some among them which were sold well in the first phase of introduction to the market, but unfortunately most of them finally disappeared from the market. However, we can recently find some successful revived products with the same concepts in the past but different figures.
At first, I will try to list up the about 30 products by categorizing into 10 groups according to how to utilize the features of the thermoelectric element.
Features compared to the compressor type. Product
I. To make space and weight saving, low cost, no vibration and no noise cooler box when compared to the compressor type. 1. Refrigerator
2. Wine cellar
3. Medicine cooler box
II. Aiming exclusively at compactness and lightweight for personal use miniature cooler. 1. Cosmetic cooler box
2. Bottle cooler box
3. Hand-towel cooler box
4. Bait cooler box
5. Insulin cooler box
III. To keep head cool for health by simple and compact structure. 1. Head band cooler box
2. Cool pillow
IV. To apply stimulus to skin for health or beauty by periodical switching of cooling and heating.. 1. Facial equipment
2. Temperature perceiving tester
3. Hot/cold stimulator for Moxa treatment
V. To keep temperature of liquid in small container constant with simple device. 1. Vase cooler
2. Aquarium cooler
3. Photo-developing butt
VI. To cool liquid passing through pipe with simple device. 1. Instantaneous water cooler
2. Water cooler for aircrate cabin
VII. To cool flat or flexible plate with simple device. 1. Doggy cool plate
2. Cold plate
3. Cold pack sheet
VIII. To utilize thermal radiation from temperature controlled flat plate with simple device. Air-conditioning panel
IX. To control temperature on free curved surface with compact device. Air-conditioning jacket
X. To materialize functions of air-conditioning or dehumidification with compact and simple device. 1. Dehumidifier
2. Thin air-conditioner for partition
You will find out that very attractive items are arrayed in the list. Were they successfully commercialized and still alive? That was not how it worked.

I want to talk from next time about the circumstances of development in every category and the deployment of the result. Because each article will be written out based on dredged up old documents or hearings from the alumni of KELK Ltd., it will appear in this story sequentially from the product for which enough information was collected.

Interesting photographs of an air conditioner for cars, which is not listed up in the categories but was explained previously in the first talk, were found in our archive like a junkyard. Some of them are shown bellow. The air conditioner was developed in 1958, and our parent company’s president was willing and keen to test the new product in his privately owned car, a Chrysler. The technology could not, however, come into practical use.

Thermoelectric car air-conditioner assembly

Thermoelectric air-conditioner installed in Chrysler trunk

Cold air ventilator behind rear seat

Outside air intake into Chrysler trunk

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