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Vehicle Component Heat Dissipation Improvements

Improvements to efficiently, safely, and inexpensively dispel heat from power modules, circuitry, and various devices

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Heat exchanger with conventional fins
Heat exchanger with conventional fins

Technology Marketing SummaryVehicle engines, power modules, and electronic circuitry need to be cooled while operating. In order to do this, heat sinks and other heat exchangers are often used to draw heat away from these objects and into the surrounding air. Insufficient cooling can irreversibly damage sensitive instruments, making them costly to design, maintain, and replace. NREL scientists have developed new cost-effective designs to improve the cooling effects of heat exchangers.Description1. Fluid-Cooled Heat Sink with Improved Fin Areas and Efficiencies:
Current technologies to cool electronics or other power components usually involve a set of thermally conductive fins placed on the hot base plate. Air or liquids are passed through the fins to capture the excess heat and carry it away from the sensitive equipment. The entire base plate cannot be covered in fins due to manufacturing difficulties in creating small enough spaces between fins in order for fluids to pass through. This invention is a design for a unique arrangement and shape of fins which cover the entire base plate, allowing for maximum heat transmission away from the electronics. The increase in fin density works especially well for stacked heat sinks. These stacks double the effective area for transferring heat, which allows the temperature difference to be halved, the fluid flow rate to be reduced, or the heat dissipated per area to be doubled. Thus, there is a significant improvement in the efficiency with which power electronic components can be cooled.

2. Low Thermal Resistance Power Module Assembly:
Power electronic modules are often cooled by connecting thermally conductive materials to the back sides of the modules. Heat is then transferred from the electronics to this material and then dispersed into fins or other areas. NREL has designed an efficient method of cooling electronics by creating high-surface-area cutouts in the material below the heat source to enhance the heat dissipation. Fluids such as automotive liquid coolants or air can then come directly in contact with the back of the object to be cooled, thus eliminating one layer of thermal resistance. This direct back side cooling reduces the overall thermal resistance of the system and reduces the overall weight of the heat exchanger material. This consequently improves the cost, weight, and volume of the power module assembly.
Benefits
  • Cost-effective and efficient solutions
  • Easy to manufacture
  • Compatible with current equipment
Applications and Industries
  • Automotive
  • Transportation
  • Electronics and Computers
  • Refrigeration
  • Air Conditioning
  • High-Powered Lasers and LEDs
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 7,190,581
Patent
7,190,581
Low thermal resistance power module assembly
A power module assembly with low thermal resistance and enhanced heat dissipation to a cooling medium. The assembly includes a heat sink or spreader plate with passageways or openings for coolant that extend through the plate from a lower surface to an upper surface. A circuit substrate is provided and positioned on the spreader plate to cover the coolant passageways. The circuit substrate includes a bonding layer configured to extend about the periphery of each of the coolant passageways and is made up of a substantially nonporous material. The bonding layer may be solder material which bonds to the upper surface of the plate to provide a continuous seal around the upper edge of each opening in the plate. The assembly includes power modules mounted on the circuit substrate on a surface opposite the bonding layer. The power modules are positioned over or proximal to the coolant passageways.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 03/13/2007
Issued
Patent 7,859,846
Patent
7,859,846
Low thermal resistance power module assembly
A power module assembly (400) with low thermal resistance and enhanced heat dissipation to a cooling medium. The assembly includes a heat sink or spreader plate (410) with passageways or openings (414) for coolant that extend through the plate from a lower surface (411) to an upper surface (412). A circuit substrate (420) is provided and positioned on the spreader plate (410) to cover the coolant passageways. The circuit substrate (420) includes a bonding layer (422) configured to extend about the periphery of each of the coolant passageways and is made up of a substantially nonporous material. The bonding layer (422) may be solder material which bonds to the upper surface (412) of the plate to provide a continuous seal around the upper edge of each opening (414) in the plate. The assembly includes power modules (430) mounted on the circuit substrate (420) on a surface opposite the bonding layer (422). The power modules (430) are positioned over or proximal to the coolant passageways.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 12/28/2010
Issued
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ROI: 05-04PrototypeAvailable07/09/201004/01/2011

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Eric Payne<Eric.Payne@nrel.gov>