Tag Archives: heat transfer

ATS Heat Sink Hammer Test

Advanced Thermal Solutions brings the wacky and insane experiments of Crazy “Lenny”. Watch as he attempts to smash ATS’s patented maxiGRIP and superGRIP heat sink attachments with an assortment of hammers.

To learn more go to: www.qats.com/Heat-Sink/Attachments


Understanding Loop Heat Pipes

Looped heat pipes (LHPs) are two-phase heat transfer devices that employ the same capillary pumping of a working fluid as used in conventional heat pipes. LHPs can transfer heat efficiently up to several meters at any orientation in the gravity field. When placed horizontally, this distance can extend to several tens of meters.

The development of the LHP was driven mainly by a limit of conventional heat pipes in which the wick system abruptly decreases its heat transfer capacity, if the evaporator is raised higher than the condenser. This need was acutely felt in aerospace applications where the heat generated by the electronics had to be transferred efficiently away for dissipation purposes. But the device needed to be much less sensitive to changes in orientation in the gravity field. Figures 1a and 1b show the schematic of an LHP [1].

The development of looped heat pipes dates from 1972.    Qpedia_0508_Loop_Heat_Pipes_Figure1Figure 1. Schematic of Principle of Operation of a Loop Heat Pipe [1, 2].

The first such device, with a length of 1.2m, a capacity of about 1 kW, and water as its working fluid, was created and tested successfully by the Russian scientists Gerasimov and Maydanik from the Ural Polytechnic Institute. With heat needing to be transported over a longer distance, and because the working fluid circulation in a heat pipe is directly proportional to the surface tension coefficient and inversely proportional to the effective pore radius of the wick, a different system for heat transport was required when the evaporator was above the condenser. This is shown in Figure 1.

The capillary head must be increased to compensate for pressure losses when the liquid is moving to the evaporator while operating against gravity. This can only be done by decreasing the effective pore radius of the wick. However, the increase in hydraulic resistance is approximately proportional to the square of the pore radius. As a result, it has not been possible to build a heat pipe of sufficient length that is capable of operating efficiently against gravity. Thus, there was incentive to develop LHPs, and they are now finding further application in modern electronics.

As stated, a number of limits impact the performance of an LHP. Qing et. al. [3] performed a detailed investigation of three key parameters on the performance of a looped heat pipe for use in cryogenics applications. This LHP is shown in Figure 2.

1) Effect of Wick Pore Size – It is well known that the maximum capillary pressure produced by the primary wick depends on both the effective pore size and the surface tension of the working fluid. In general, the smaller the pore size and the larger the surface tension, the higher the maximum capillary pressure. A smaller pore size will also result in larger flow resistance which will limit heat transfer capability. The pore sizes considered were 2 and 10 μm.
Figure 2. Schematic of an LHP for Cryogenics Application [3].
When the pore size of the primary wick is larger (10mm), the heat transfer capability of the LHP can reach 26 W only when a smaller reservoir (60cc) is used. Its ability to operate against gravity is greatly weakened. With a wick pore size of 2mm, the LHP can transfer a heat load of 26 W under horizontal orientation no matter what size reservoir volume is used.

Qpedia_0508_Loop_Heat_Pipes_Figure2Figure 2. Schematic of an LHP for Cryogenics Application [3].

2. Effect of Reservoir Size – It is interesting to see how the LHP will function with different reservoir sizes. As shown in Figure 3, the combination of gravity and reservoir size has a direct impact on the heat transfer capability of the LHP. Under adverse gravity, the heat transfer capability of the LHP is 12 W using the larger reservoir and only 5W using the smaller one.Qpedia_0508_Loop_Heat_Pipes_Figure3
Figure 3. Heat Transfer Capability of LHPs with 2mm and 10mm Pore Diameters in Horizontal Orientation [3].

3. Effect of Working Fluid – Fluids have different surface tensions that impact the heat transport capability of the LHP.

Figure 4 demonstrates this capability: Qpedia_0508_Loop_Heat_Pipes_Figure4
Figure 4. Heat Transfer Capability of an LHP When the Working Fluid is Oxygen [3].

Though not shown in Figure 4, when the working fluid is oxygen instead of nitrogen, the heat transfer capability can be up to 50 W under horizontal orientation with the other experimental conditions remaining the same.

LHP Applications
This discussion has highlighted the functionality and importance of design parameters on the performance of LHPs. While this discussion concerns an aerospace application, LHPs have been used for standard electronics as well. Maydanik gives several examples where miniature LHPs are used for microelectronics [1]. Figure 5 shows the “use of flat disk-shaped evaporators in LHPs. The scheme and the external view of such evaporators 10 and 13mm
thick, whose thermo-contact surface is made in the form of a flange 45 mm in diameter for fixing the heat source. The results of development of ammonia LHPs 0.86m and 1m long with a vapor and a liquid line 2mm in diameter equipped with such evaporators of stainless steel. In trials the devices demonstrated serviceability at any orientations in 1-g conditions. The maximum capacity was, respectively, 90–110 W and 120–160 W, depending on the orientation, and the value of the minimum thermal resistance 0.30 K/W and 0.42 K/W.”

Figure 5. Photo and Schematic of Flat, Disk-Shaped Evaporators in an LHP [1].

Another design is shown in Figure 6, where miniature LHPs are made from stainless steel and copper and the working fluids are ammonia and water . The ammonia LHP has a 5mm diameter evaporator with a titanium wick, and 2mm diameter lines for vapor and liquid.. The water LHP is equipped with a 6mm diameter evaporator and 2.5mm diameter lines. The effective length of the devices is about 300mm.

Figure 6. Miniature LHPs [1].

Each has a finned condenser, 62mm long, whose total surface is about 400cm2. The condensers are cooled by a fan providing an air flow rate of 0.64 m3/min, at a temperature of 22 ± 2°C.
Tests show that the maximum capacity of the ammonia LHP is 95 W at an evaporator wall temperature of 93°C. The maximum capacity for the water LHP was not achieved, but at the same temperature it was equal to 130 W. The minimum thermal resistance values of the LHP, 0.12 K/W and 0.1K/W, were obtained at heat loads of 70 W and 130 W, respectively. It should be noted that the ammonia LHP demonstrated a higher value of for heat transfer coefficient in the evaporator, which reached 78,000 W/m2K at a heat flow density of 21.2 W/cm2 at the surface of an interface with an area of 4 cm2. For the water LHP, these values were, respectively, 31,700 W/m2K and 35 W/cm2. In this case, at the surface of the evaporator’s active zone, the heat flow density was much higher. For the ammonia LHP it was 44.5 W/cm2, and for the water was 69.1 W/cm2 [3].

Figure 7. Photo and Schematic of a CPU Cooler Based on an LHP [4, 5].

Another example of LHPs in microelectronics is shown in Figure 7. Here, an LHP was designed for cooling a 25-30 W processor with a total weight of 50g. This LHP was based on copper-water with an evaporator diameter of 6mm.
In conclusion, LHPs may resolve many of the drawbacks seen in conventional heat pipes and provide additional capabilities. As shown by Maydanik, the capillary mechanism, in conjunction with the reservoir size and the use of different fluids, can bring significant advantages that may not readily be seen in heat pipes. Some of these include:

  • the use of fine-pored wicks,
  • maximum decrease in the distance of the liquid motion in the wick,
  • organization of effective heat exchange during the evaporation and condensation of a working fluid, and,
  • maximum decrease in pressure losses in the transportation (adiabatic) section.

Along with the advantages gained from LHPs, the use of liquids in electronics and potential operational instability must be considered carefully. Operational instability, if not managed, could conceivably create thermal cycling on the electronics component being cooled. As with heat pipes,operational dry out or the loss of fluid due to leakage could render the LHP inoperable. Otherwise, LHPs appear to be an attractive supplement to the arsenal of cooling options available to the design engineer. ■

1. Maydanik, Y.., Loop Heat Pipes, Applied Thermal Engineering, 2005.
2. Muraoka, I., Ramos, F., Vlassov, V., Analysis of the Operational Characteristics and Limits of a Loop Heat Pipe with Porous Element in the Condenser, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, V44, 2001.
3. Mo, Q., Jingtao, L., Jinghui, C., Investigation of the Effects of Three Key Parameters on the Heat Transfer Capability of a CLHP, Cryogenics V47, 2007.
4. Chang, C., Huang, B., Maydanik, Y., Feasibility of a Mini LHP for CPU Cooling of a Notebook PC, Proc. of 12th Int. Heat Pipe Conference, Moscow, Russia, May 2002.
5. Pastukhov, V., Maydanik, Y., Vershinin, C., Korukov, M., Miniature Loop Heat Pipes for Electronic Cooling

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What are Heat Pipes and What Characteristics Make Them Helfpul for Electronics Cooling?

Heat Pipes, the Super Conductors
Heat pipes are transport mechanisms that can carry heat fluxes ranging from 10 W/cm2 to 20 KW/cm2 at a very fast speed. Essentially, they can be considered as heat super conductors. Heat pipes can be used either as a means to transport heat from one location to another, or as a means to isothermalize the temperature distribution.

The first heat pipe was tested at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1963. Since then, heat pipes have been used in such diverse applications as laptop computers, spacecraft, plastic injection molders, medical devices, and lighting systems. The operation of a heat pipe is described in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Schematic View of a Heat Pipe [1].

A heat pipe has three sections: the evaporator, adiabatic, and condenser. The interior of the pipe is covered with a wick, and the pipe is partially filled with
a liquid such as water. When the evaporator section (L ) is exposed to a heat source, the liquid inside vapor- izes and the pressure in that section increases. The increased pressure causes the vapor to flow at a fast speed toward the condenser section of the heat pipe (L ). The vapor in the condenser section loses heat to the integral heat sink and is converted back to liquid by the transfer of the latent heat of vaporization to the condenser. The liquid is then pumped back to the evaporator through the wick capillary action. The middle section
of the heat pipe (La), the adiabatic portion, has a very small temperature difference.

figure2Figure 2. Pressure Drop Distribution in a Heat Pipe [1].

Figure 2 shows the pressure drop distribution inside a heat pipe. In order for the capillary force to drive the vapor, the capillary pressure of the wick should exceed the pressure difference between the vapor and the liquid at the evaporator. The graph also shows that if the heat pipe is operated against the force of gravity, the liquid undergoes a larger pressure drop. The result
is less pumping of the wick with reduced heat transfer. The amount of heat transfer decrease depends on the particular heat pipe.

figure3Figure 3. Different Wick Structures

A typical heat pipe is made of the following:
1. Metallic pipe  The metal can be aluminum, copper or stainless steel. It must be compatible with the working fluid to prevent chemical reactions, such as oxidation.

2. Working fluid  Several types of fluids have been used to date. These include methane, water, ammonia, and sodium. Choice of fluid also depends on the
operating temperature range.

3. Wick  The wick structure comes in different shapes and materials. Figure 3 shows the profiles of common wick types: axial groove, fine fiber, screen mesh, and sintering. Each wick has its own characteristics. For example, the axial groove has good conductivity, poor flow against gravity, and low thermal resistance. Conversely, a sintering wick has excellent flow in the opposite direction of gravity, but has high thermal resistance.

Table 1. Heat Pipes with Different Structures and Operating Conditions [1]table1Table 1 shows experimental data for the operating temperature and heat transfer for three different types of heat pipes [1].

Certain factors can limit the maximum heat transfer rate from a heat pipe.

These are classified as follows:
1. Capillary limit
  Heat transfer is limited by the pumping action of the wick.
2. Sonic limit  When the vapor reaches the speed of sound, further increase in the heat transfer rate can only be achieved when the evaporator temperature
3. Boiling limit  High heat fluxes can cause dry out.
4. Entrainment limit  High speed vapor can impede the return of the liquid to the condense.

A heat pipe has an effective thermal conductivity much larger than that of a very good metal conductor, such as copper. Figure 4 shows a copper-water heat pipe and a copper pipe dipped into an 80°C water bath. Both pipes were initially at 20°C temperature. The heat pipe temperature reaches the water temperature in about 25 seconds, while the copper rod reaches just 30°C after 200 seconds. However, in an actual application when a heat pipe is soldered or epoxied to the base of a heat sink, the effective thermal conductivity of the heat pipe may be drastically reduced due to the extra thermal resistances added by the bonding. A rule of thumb for the effective thermal conductivity of a heat pipe is 4000 W/mK.

Figure 4. Experiment Comparing Speed of Heat Transfer Between a Heat Pipe and a Copper Pipe [1].

Heat pipe manufacturers generally provide data sheets showing the relationship between the temperature difference and the heat input. Figure 5 shows the temperature difference between the two ends of a heat pipe as a function of power [2].

figure5Figure 5. Temperature Difference Between the Evaporator and the Condenser in a Heat Pipe [2].

figure6Figure 6. Typical Round Heat Pipes in the Market.

There are many heat pipe shapes in the market, but the most common are either round or flat. Round heat pipes can be used for transferring heat from one point to another. They can be applied in tightly spaced electronic components, such as in a laptop. Heat is transferred to a different location that provides enough space to use a proper heat sink or other cooling solution. Figure 6 shows some of the common round heat pipes available in the market.

Flat heat pipes (vapor chambers) work conceptually the same as round heat pipes. Figure 7 shows a flat pipe design, they can be used as heat spreaders. When the heat source is much smaller than the heat sink base, a flat heat pipe can be embedded in the base of the heat sink, or it can be attached to the base to spread the heat more uniformly on the base of the heat sink. Figure 8 shows some common flat heat pipes.

figure7Figure 7. Conceptual Design Schematic of a Flat Heat Pipe [1].


figure8Figure 8. Commonly-used Flat Heat Pipes.

Although a vapor chamber might be helpful in minimizing spreading resistance, it may not perform as well as a plate made from a very high conductor, such as diamond. A determining factor is the thickness of the base plate. Figure 9 shows the spreading resistance for 80 x 80 x 5 mm base plate of different materials with a 10 x 10 mm heat source. The vapor chamber has a spreading resistance that is better than copper, but worse than diamond. However the price of the diamond might not justify its application. Figure 9 also includes the spreading
resistance from the ATS Forced Thermal Spreader (FTS), which is equal to that of diamond at a much lower cost. The FTS uses a combination of mini and
micro channels to minimize the spreading resistance by circulating the liquid inside the spreader.

figure9Figure 9. Thermal Spreading Resistances for Different Materials. [3] – ATS

Heat pipes have a very important role in the thermal management arena. With projected lifespans of 129,000-260,000 hours (as claimed by their manufacturers), they will continue to be an integral part of some new thermal systems. However, with such problems as dry out, acceleration, leakage, vapor lock and reliable performance in ETSI or NEBS types of environments, heat pipes should be tested prior to use and after unsatisfactory examination of other cooling methods.

1. Faghri, A. Heat Pipe Science and Technology Taylor & Francis, 1995.
2. Thermacore Internation, Inc., www.thermacore.com.
3. Xiong, D., Azar, K., Tavossoli, B., Experimental Study on a Hybrid Liquid/Air Cooling System, IEEE, Semiconductor Thermal Measurement and Management Symposium 2006.

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ATS Officially Granted Access for Government Contracts

COTS Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc., (ATS), is now officially in active status with the United States Federal Governments System for Award Management (SAM). The System for Award Management (SAM) is the Official U.S. Government system that consolidated the capabilities of CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPL, for vendors doing business with the Federal government.

Military electronics systems include communications, weapons, reconnaissance, targeting and evasion, delivery and functionality. Power dissipation in these devices is at an all-time high and thermal management is becoming even more of a critical issue. Along with power and heat challenges, engineers must factor in remote locations, rough handling and temperature extremes, in which systems must continue to function reliably. Further, many military systems require small form factors leaving less room for conventional heat dissipation solutions. ATS has already received its several contracts with the US Government and expects to expand its current role in the military, defense, and aerospace markets.

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The Monthly Qpedia is Out!

Qpedia_Aug13_coverThe monthly issue of Qpedia has just been released and can be downloaded at: http://www.qats.com/Qpedia-Thermal-eMagazine/Back-Issues.

This month’s featured articles include:

Application of TECs to Thermal Management of 3D ICs

From the thermal perspective, 3D stacked chips pose different challenges than what has been experienced in 2D packaging. For example, the heat dissipation of 3D ICs is highly non-uniform and multidirectional, due to the intrinsic chip architecture and the available real estate. When cooling at sub-ambient temperatures is necessary, the small footprint of a 3D chip becomes an impediment to deploying a cooling solution. Additionally, precision temperature control becomes difficult, since the surface to be controlled may be buried deep in the 3D stack. In response to cooling concerns about 3D ICs, this article presents a review of methods available for cooling 3D ICs to sub ambient temperatures using TECs.

Challenges in Testing Thermal Interface Materials

When choosing a thermal interface material (TIM), most of the time we look at the datasheet and find the thermal impedance if it is a solid material or the thermal conductivity if it is grease. Then, we calculate the thermal resistance and temperature rise with those numbers. But, how do we know that a TIM is performing as advertised? Can we really tell if one TIM will perform better than another, based on their specs? Additionally, the material presented in this article suggests that the data printed in TIM datasheets should be evaluated carefully to ensure that the testing procedures are similar to the actual application. Furthermore, even with the existing standards, many variables still exist.

Industry Developments: Portable Cooling Systems

Buildings and rooms constructed to house data centers are getting larger, more congested and warmer. Many of these structures have sophisticated thermal management systems featuring high-powered coolers or harnessing cold local water or air. For some needs, however, a portable cooling system can provide a much simpler and less costly solution. These systems can deliver direct cooling relief to equipment hot spots, and some can lower a room’s temperature when a central cooling system is inadequate or nonexistent.

Technology Review: Enhancing Heat Transfer on Surfaces

In this issue our spotlight is on enhancing heat transfer on surfaces. There is much discussion about its deployment in the electronics industry, and these patents show some of the salient features that are the focus of different inventors.

Cooling News featuring the latest product releases and buzz from around the electronics cooling industry.

Download the issue now and see why over 18,000 engineer’s subscribe to Qpedia. Click here to subscribe Subscribe to ATS

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