The significant increase of system power and the continuous decrease of electronics sizes have brought interesting challenges in their thermal management, both at component and system level. Traditional cooling system designs relied a lot on natural conduction and convection, i.e. by attaching a heat sink directly on the device. With the evolution for smaller size and more powerful devices these days, it has become necessary to add a fan to these local heat sinks. Nevertheless, fan and sinks placed directly over the device, not only occupy the most valuable room in the inside of an instrumentation package, but also interfere with the placement of add-on boards and other system components. In certain cases, forced air cooling is no longer adequate in keeping up with the new thermal management criteria.
Electronics are sensitive to filth and vibration. Electronics that run in harsh environments, in particular, will have to be designed intensively to overcome these negative influences. Imagine an electronic running in a reasonably unpleasant environment (e.g. a mining site), assuming with temperatures up to 60 °C, its performance and reliability are two critical concerns. Fans and finned metal plates are not the best modules in thermal management due to the dusty and rugged atmosphere. This constraint greatly restricts the efficiency of heat dissipation to the environment. In consideration of this, this thesis project aims to create a sealed instrumentation package with a design of passive heat-pump system.
The scheme is to integrate a phase change heat pipe and Peltier device in the cooling system in order to improve the conventional cooling system. With the heat pipe’s design flexibility, it is able to transport excessive heat away from the heat-producing components, defeating any obstruction or constraints of neighboring boards. Performing as a heat sink, the Peltier will then dissipate heat from the inside of the package to the environment. The characteristic of the heat pipe, having low temperature difference between its two ends; and that of the Peltier device, having no moving parts, not only offer steady temperature control, but also promise maximum reliability in thermal management. This passive design is one of the ideal methods to compensate the thermal management of new era electronics.
This paper explains the basic design/operation of heat pipes and investigates the feasibility of “heat pipe-thermoelectric” design.