Recent Research Into Next-Generation Heat Exchangers for Electronics Thermal Management

Since it was published around one year ago, the “What is a Heat Exchanger” video (watch it below) has been one of the most watched on the ATS YouTube page. With the obvious interest in heat exchangers in particular (and liquid cooling in general), we are curating recent research into the technology and its applications in the thermal management of electronics.

Heat Exchangers
Heat Exchangers are a common component in liquid cooling solutions for electronics. Below is recent research into this growing technology. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

The following are three examples of papers written about heat exchangers including applications in the automotive space to developing microchannels to enhance thermal performance to optimizing heat exchangers for use with high-powered electronics.

We have posted several pieces of content on this blog about heat exchangers in the past. Examples include:

Since heat exchangers remain a popular topic for engineers, we will continue to add new pieces about the technology in the coming months.

Novel Power Electronics Three-Dimensional Heat Exchanger

Read the full paper at https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy14osti/61041.pdf.

Abstract: Electric-drive systems, which include electric machines and power electronics, are a key enabling technology to meet increasing automotive fuel economy standards, improve energy security, address environmental concerns, and support economic development. Enabling cost-effective electric-drive systems requires reductions in inverter power semiconductor area, which increases challenges associated with heat removal. In this paper, we demonstrate an integrated approach to the design of thermal management systems for power semiconductors that matches the passive thermal resistance of the packaging with the active convective cooling performance of the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger concept builds on existing semiconductor thermal management improvements described in literature and patents, which include improved bonded interface materials, direct cooling of the semiconductor packages, and double-sided cooling. The key difference in the described concept is the achievement of high heat transfer performance with less aggressive cooling techniques by optimizing the passive and active heat transfer paths. An extruded aluminum design was selected because of its lower tooling cost, higher performance, and scalability in comparison to cast aluminum. Results demonstrated a 102% heat flux improvement and a package heat density improvement over 30%, which achieved the thermal performance targets.

Microchannel Heat Exchanger for Electronics Cooling Applications

Read the full paper at http://proceedings.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/proceeding.aspx?articleid=1636343.

Abstract: The power consumption of electronic devices, such as semiconductor diode laser bars, has continually increased in recent years while the heat transfer area for rejecting the associated thermal energy has decreased. As a result, the generated heat fluxes have become more intense making the thermal management of these systems more complicated. Air cooling methods are not adequate for many applications, while liquid cooled heat rejection methods can be sufficient. Significantly higher convection heat transfer coefficients and heat capacities associated with liquids, compared to gases, are largely accountable for higher heat rejection capabilities through the micro-scale systems. Forced convection in micro-scale systems, where heat transfer surface area to fluid volume ratio is much higher than similar macro-scale systems, is also a major contributor to the enhanced cooling capabilities of microchannels. There is a balance, however, in that more power is required by microchannels due to the large amount of pressure drop that are developed through such small channels. The objective of this study is to improve and enhance heat transfer through a microchannel heat exchanger using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method. A commercial software package was used to simulate fluid flow and heat transfer through the existing microchannels, as well as to improve its designs. Three alternate microchannel designs were explored, all with hydraulic diameters on the order of 300 microns. The resulting temperature profiles were analyzed for the three designs, and both the heat transfer and pressure drop performances were compared. The optimal microchannel cooler was found to have a thermal resistance of about 0.07 °C-cm2 /W and a pressure drop of less than half of a bar.

Thermal Analysis of the Heat Exchanger for Power Electronic Device with Higher Power Density

Read the full paper at http://pe.org.pl/articles/2012/12a/70.pdf. Abstract: Liquid cooling system has been used in high power electronic device systems to cool down the temperature of power electronic device. Heat exchanger is an important part of liquid cooling system to transfer the heat generated by power electronic device into air. In this paper, a Streamline-upwind/Petrov-Galerkin (SUPG) stabilized finite element analysis method was proposed to solve the water and air governing formulas including the mass conservation equation, the momentum conservation and the energy conservation equation. Furthermore, the thermal characteristic of a heat exchanger is simulated, and the result was compared with an experiment. The comparison shows that this method is effective.


For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) thermal management consulting and design services, visit https://www.qats.com/consulting or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.

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