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Nonlinear Programming Applied to Calibrating Thermal and Fluid Models to Test Data (Semi-Therm 2002)

This paper describes readily available techniques for automating the search for worst-case (e.g., “hot case”, “cold case”) design scenarios using only modest computational resources. These methods not only streamline a repetitive yet crucial task, they usually produce better results.

The problems with prior approaches are summarized, then the improvements are demonstrated via a simplified example that is analyzed using various approaches. Finally, areas for further automation are outlined, including attacking the entire design problem at a higher-level.

A cryogenic capillary pumped loop (CPL) has been developed, designed, fabricated and successfully demonstrated by test. Using no moving parts, the novel device is able to start from a supercritical state and cool a remote dissipation source to 80-90K. Design studies were conducted for integration requirements and component design optimization and prototype units were designed, fabricated and successfully tested with excellent results.

The NASA-standard thermohydraulic analyzer, SINDA/ FLUINT, has been used to model various aspects of loop heat pipe  (LHP) operation for more than 12 years. Indeed, this code has many features that were specifically designed for just such specialized tasks, and is unique in this respect.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are interested in developing more efficient vehicle air conditioning (A/C) systems to reduce fuel consumption in advanced vehicle designs. Vehicle A/C systems utilizing electrically-driven compressors are one possible system design approach to increasing A/C system performance over various drive cycle conditions.

Thermal analysis is typically performed using a point design approach, where a single model is analyzed one analysis case at a time. Changes to the system design are analyzed by updating the thermal radiation and conduction models by hand, which can become a bottleneck when attempting to adopt a concurrent engineering approach. This paper presents the parametric modeling features that have been added to Thermal DesktopTM to support concurrent engineering. The thermal model may now be characterized by a set of design variables that are easily modified to reflect system level design changes.

Historically, thermal/fluid modeling began as a means of validating and sometimes correcting passively cooled designs that had been proposed by nonspecialists in heat transfer and fluid flow. As dissipation fluxes have risen, and as air cooling reaches the limits of its usefulness, involvement of thermal engineers is required earlier in the design process. Thermal engineers are now commonly responsible for sizing and selecting active cooling components such as fans and heat sinks, and increasingly single and two-phase coolant loops.

As air cooling of electronics reaches the limits of its applicability, the next generation of cooling technology is likely to involve heat pipes and single- or two-phase coolant loops (including perhaps loop thermosyphons, spray cooling, vapor compression refrigeration cycles, and loop heat pipes). These technologies are not suitable for analysis using 2D/3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, and yet the geometric complexities of the thermal/structural models make network-style schematic modeling methods cumbersome.