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Using CFD to Obtain Improved Thermal Management of Electronic Component Cooling

Electronic components such as PCBs, microprocessors, batteries, etc. are required to operate at temperature within their allowable limits. This requires dissipating excess heat generated due to potential difference or Joule heating to prevent premature failure.

A usual approach to provide cooling is by means of natural or forced convection using fans and coolants for air and liquid cooling respectively. However, as market requirements continuously shift towards miniaturization of these devices, thermal management of electronic components is a challenging task.

On account of these challenges, several researches has already been carried out on utilizing high conductivity materials, modification in the design of heat sinks and application of extended surfaces (fins) wherever required. Yet, understanding the full potential of the design for better thermal management is difficult mainly due to customized applications.


Improved Thermal Management by using CFD

Thankfully, use of computational fluid dynamics is one of the beneficial tools to identify and manage heat dissipation effectively by simulating actual conditions with the help of well-validated solvers. Through the prediction of heat transfer capabilities and convective abilities of the heat dissipating components, it becomes easier to figure out design alternatives for downsizing and efficiency enhancement.

CFD for Fan-Sink Systems

The traditional fan-sink can be evaluating by simulating the heat flowing characteristics, allowing engineers to decide on optimal placement of the system on the board. The performance of the fan by visualizing the entering and exit flow nature can be measured and subsequently improved.

CFD Analysis Service is capable to provide detailed flow visualization to identify recirculating zones with the heat sink, preventing proper heat transfer. Such simulation helps in improving mass flow rate, optimizing fan blade angles and performance enhancement of the heat sink system.

CFD for Air Jet Impingement Systems

Air jet impingement system is a concept of utilizing concentrated air jet for a localized high heat flux cooling. These systems are mostly used to eliminate hot spots or uneven heating. Since the jet do not flow in a conical spray pattern, its exact location over the hot spot is important.

Additionally, the prime requirement is to have high pressure head which can be used to convert into kinetic energy of the jet. These important design considerations can be visualized using CFD, to assist in selecting suitable regions for jet impingement and measuring the required pressure head.

CFD for Micro Channel Cooling

Micro-channel cooling is being increasingly utilized in electronic component cooling mainly because of better cooling efficiency and its compactness. However, because of its complex construction, physical experiments to determine efficiency of the channels are a challenge for engineers.

However, using the CFD solver capabilities, pressure drop across the channels can be identified, and design changes can subsequently be implemented in the early phase itself. The uniformity of the temperature distribution over the component can be predicted to understand the design flaws in the channels and inlet manifolds.

CFD for Heat Pipes

Heat pipes are being extensively adopted by the electronic industry for cooling purposes because of its excellent heat transfer abilities and no involvement of any moving parts. However, designing heat pipes for particular application requires know-how about several factors such as capillary limit, boiling limit, entrainment limit and flooding limit.

For specific application requirements, these quantities must be effectively measured to ensure that heat pipe performs its cooling duties as desired. Use of CFD is extremely beneficial for such cases to evaluate the performance considering the dynamic operating and physical conditions.

CFD for Spray Cooling

Spray cooling is also an effective method to extract heat fluxes from electronic components. One of the major concerns with spray cooling is liquid pooling, which occurs due to concentration of the spray on specific regions rather than its uniform spreading across the desired area. For such cooling methods, CFD can provide a useful solution to determine spray pattern to help predict suitable spray angle for uniform cooling of the component. Location of the nozzle and its geometry can also be optimized based on the simulation results.

Image Credit:

Gaurang Trivedi

About Author: is engineering consultant at TrueCADD. Besides, donning multiple hats, as a website manager and marketing in charge, he also oversees the editorial content, coordinating and managing the website, its news sections, blogs and social media promotions as well.

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