Thermal Management

Understanding thermal behaviour and the structural response of your designs is crucial for creating reliable products. Our dedicated FEA, CFD & manufacturing simulation capabilities and reliability engineering experience support component selection and packaging decisions to avoid heating issues while minimising product cost.

Software & Consulting

In conjunction with our Structural Analysis capabilities, we regularly solve thermal problems using FEA & CFD methods within Ansys, coupled with structural models when required to predict thermal stresses and expansion/contraction. Applications include machinery and infrastructure involved in energy generation and conversion, valves and compressors, furnace equipment and domestic appliances. The design and performance of electronic equipment in particular is heavily influenced by thermal issues, including how to dissipate heat and cope with stresses resulting from temperature gradients. Systems and devices are becoming smaller while increasingly complex and power-hungry.  This results in higher power densities with the task of removing excessive heat to retain operational performance and reliability becoming ever more challenging. Benefits of thermal management simulation during concept design and development stages include:

  • Identify compromises with hardware design
  • Locate problem areas and evaluate alternatives before basic layout is locked down
  • Easy validation of design modifications before building any physical prototypes
  • Select cooling-related hardware
  • Explore operational scenarios
  • Undertake Design for Reliability (DFR) activities

Ansys CFD can predict steady-state and transient natural and forced convective flows, conjugate heat transfer and even radiation using the flexible FLUENT and CFX solvers. However, to efficiently model electronic components and assemblies, we also provides the Ansys Icepak solution, developed specifically to to quickly set up and solve thermal management problems within IC packages, printed circuit boards, rack mounts and complete electronic systems.

Typical thermal management simulation using ANSYS Icepak
Typical thermal management simulation using ANSYS Icepak

For electronic design companies without the immediate capability to undertake simulations inhouse, we provide consulting services including design guidance in fan and ventilation grid sizing, heat sinks and other options for dissipating heat. For organisations running large numbers of power-intensive electronics-based equipment, such as Data Centres, we can take a systems approach to HVAC design, considering a room or entire building. We can also use an initial project to subsequently introduce FEA or CFD software into our clients’ own DFR processes. In the project shown below, the objective was to evaluate surface temperatures of various ICs and subsystem modules within fan-cooled test equipment and use the analysis to advise on fan selection.

Prediction of subsystem package surface temperatures (Courtesy: Plextek Ltd)
Prediction of subsystem package surface temperatures (Courtesy: Plextek Ltd)

In other projects, we have investigated alternative cooling fin arrangements while constrained by tight packaging restrictions within cabinets, combining CFD simulations with analytical heat transfer models to derive an optimised configuration.

Optimised cooling fin design within cabinet
Evaluation of temperatures and heat fin optimisation for Compact PCI module

When designing enclosures with thermal management considerations, positioning and detailing of ventilation holes and other features can have significant implication on the ease and cost of manufacture. Our Plastic Injection Moulding and Sheet Metal Forming simulation capabilities can help resolve any manufacturing issues encountered with packaging.

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