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Integrated Three-Dimensional Module Heat Exchange for Power Electronics Cooling

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

The power electronics market has started to grow dramatically with the onset of new technologies in automotive applications, power generation, energy storage, and other growing markets. 

Critical elements in the operation of electric drive systems are power electronics and power semiconductor packages. Improving thermal management of power electronics can help reduce the cost, weight, and volume of electric drive systems and thus increase market acceptance. The power semiconductor packaging must provide the necessary electrical connections while at the same time enabling heat removal from the semiconductor devices such as insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) and diodes.


NREL researchers have developed an integrated three-dimensional module heat exchanger for power electronics cooling. The design is fully integrated with a semiconductor package. Heat transfer happens from top, bottom, and sides ensuring maximum cooling. The design is stackable to form common power electronics building blocks and is scalable and modular.

The integrated module heat exchange consists of the following elements: cooling fins, heat spread plate, semiconductor package, space for bus bars, and control electronics or distributed capacitors. Optional features include heat spread tip fins and thermal insulators. Designs for liquid and air cooled systems are included as well. Preliminary finite element analysis has shown significant benefits relative to volume and cost when compared to existing cooling technologies for power semiconductor packages.

While the design was based on the needs of vehicle systems manufacturers, it should be noted that the application of the technology is not limited. Other applications include variable speed motor drives for energy efficiency, solar power and micro-scale grid power electronics, wind power generation electronics, and others.

  • Increased heat transfer efficiency
  • Commercially viable design and components
  • Various cooling and interconnection options
  • Modular and scalable design
  • Increased power
Applications and Industries
  • Automotive power electronics
  • Power generation
  • Motor drives
  • Power electronics
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,541,875
Integrated three-dimensional module heat exchanger for power electronics cooling
Embodiments discussed herein are directed to a power semiconductor packaging that removes heat from a semiconductor package through one or more cooling zones that are located in a laterally oriented position with respect to the semiconductor package. Additional embodiments are directed to circuit elements that are constructed from one or more modular power semiconductor packages.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 09/24/2013
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 11-74PrototypeAvailable01/06/201401/03/2014

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To: Erin Beaumont<>