At a time when India’s Moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, is all set to become successful with its soft landing scheduled for Wednesday, scientists at IIT Madras, in Chennai, and Khalifa University, UAE, have made significant strides in advancing heat management for miniature electronic devices, particularly for space applications.
The latest breakthrough by researchers, in mini-channel heat exchangers, has been published in the reputed peer-reviewed journal 'Applied Thermal Engineering' (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2023.121064). Co-authored by Prof. S. Vengadesan, Department of Applied Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering, IIT Madras and his research student, R. Vishnu, along with Dr. Ahmed Alkaabi and Dr. Deepak Selvakumar from Khalifa University, the research paper explains in detail on the extensive use of miniaturised electronic components, both in space missions and consumer electronics, leading to significant heat generation.
The research, conducted by the IIT Madras team, aims to disrupt the smooth flow inside the mini-channels through the use of plate electrodes. “The new design developed by this research team uses thin plate electrodes that introduce swirling flows inside mini-channel fluids, which result in the formation of vortices at the boundaries, which in turn facilitates better heat transfer,” said Prof Vengadesan.
He said the researchers employed computational methods that simulate fluid flows in three dimensions, to validate the design. “Through these simulations, they observed how the chaotic swirling flows effectively disrupted the smooth flow at the walls of the channels, and thereby enhanced heat transfer. The electrodes induce vortices at the boundary layer due to the Onsager-Wien effect, and disrupts the smooth flow,” Vengaesan added.
High-performance computing processors can generate up to 200-250 W or more of power, resulting in heat loads of up to 1 kW, necessitating efficient heat management. Liquid-cooling systems, especially micro/mini-channel heat sinks, are considered best suited for dissipating heat in such systems.
The research team, according to IIT Madras, plans to optimise the design by considering different electrode positions and orientations. Additionally, the mechanism identified in this study holds great promise for enhancing thin-film boiling and the team proposes to extend the application of the design to two-phase heat transfer systems.