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Research Papers

Design of Air-Cooled Heat Sink for a 55-kW Power Inverter With Laminar Flow

[+] Author and Article Information
Rao V. Arimilli

Mechanical Aerospace and
Biomedical Engineering Department,
The University of Tennessee,
414 Dougherty Engineering Building,
Knoxville, TN 37996-2210
e-mail: arimilli@utk.edu

Ali Hossein Nejad

Mechanical Aerospace and
Biomedical Engineering Department,
The University of Tennessee,
414 Dougherty Engineering Building,
Knoxville, TN 37996-2210
e-mail: ali@utk.edu

Kivanc Ekici

Mechanical Aerospace and
Biomedical Engineering Department,
The University of Tennessee,
414 Dougherty Engineering Building,
Knoxville, TN 37996-2210
e-mail: ekici@utk.edu

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received August 15, 2014; final manuscript received May 8, 2015; published online June 16, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Francis Kulacki.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 7(4), 041005 (Dec 01, 2015) (7 pages) Paper No: TSEA-14-1191; doi: 10.1115/1.4030638 History: Received August 15, 2014; Revised May 08, 2015; Online June 16, 2015

A methodology is developed for the design of an air-cooled 55-kW-rated inverter heat sink. The design constraints are that the power density (PD) must meet or exceed the values associated with liquid-cooled systems of the same power rating, and that the maximum surface temperatures be less than 200 °C. To keep the pressure drop low relative to turbulent flow designs, a laminar flow regime is chosen. A preliminary design that satisfies the PD constraint exactly, and the thermal requirements approximately, is determined. To ensure that the thermal requirements are met by the design configuration, a thermal-fluid analysis based on a three-dimensional conjugate heat transfer model is conducted. Overall, energy balance errors (OEBEs) as high as 15% were encountered in the numerical models. These errors are reduced by taking advantage of the symmetry between fins using a typical unit cell model. A new simplified approach for the simulations was identified which involved modeling fins as highly conductive layers instead of solid domains. This further reduced the OEBEs to less than 0.004%. The design factors considered in this study include effective cooling surface area, fin thickness, fin spacing, and fin height. The results show that the maximum surface temperatures can be kept below 200 °C for safe operation of SiC devices in the inverter module while increasing the PD.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Sketch of the heat sink configuration design

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Fig. 2

Sketch of the heat sink configuration analyzed in COMSOL showing upstream and downstream flow passage system

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Fig. 3

Sketch of the unit cell geometry: (a) UC-Fin and (b) UC-Shell

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Fig. 4

Sketch of the unit cell geometry as analyzed in COMSOL showing upstream and downstream flow passage system

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Fig. 5

OEBE comparison for the three models

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Fig. 6

Fin surface temperature and isotherms (°C) for the three models at ReDh = 1000. The flow is from left to right. The minimum and maximum temperatures are within 3 °C of each other. (a) HM, (b) UC-Fin, and (c) UC-Shell.

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