Multi-Scale Thermal Modeling Methodology for High Power-Electronic Cabinets

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Burton, Ludovic Nicolas
Joshi, Yogendra
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Future generation of all-electric ships will be highly dependent on electric power, since every single system aboard such as the drive propulsion, the weapon system, the communication and navigation systems will be electrically powered. Power conversion modules (PCM) will be used to transform and distribute the power as desired in various zone within the ships. As power densities increase at both components and systems-levels, high-fidelity thermal models of those PCMs are indispensable to reach high performance and energy efficient designs. Efficient systems-level thermal management requires modeling and analysis of complex turbulent fluid flow and heat transfer processes across several decades of length scales. In this thesis, a methodology for thermal modeling of complex PCM cabinets used in naval applications is offered. High fidelity computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer (CFD/HT) models are created in order to analyze the heat dissipation from the chip to the multi-cabinet level and optimize turbulent convection cooling inside the cabinet enclosure. Conventional CFD/HT modeling techniques for such complex and multi-scale systems are severely limited as a design or optimization tool. The large size of such models and the complex physics involved result in extremely slow processing time. A multi-scale approach has been developed to predict accurately the overall airflow conditions at the cabinet level as well as the airflow around components which dictates the chip temperature in details. Various models of different length scales are linked together by matching the boundary conditions. The advantage is that it allows high fidelity models at each length scale and more detailed simulations are obtained than what could have been accomplished with a single model methodology. It was found that the power cabinets under the prescribed design parameters, experience operating point airflow rates that are much lower than the design requirements. The flow is unevenly distributed through the various bays. Approximately 90 % of the cold plenum inlet flow rate goes exclusively through Bay 1 and Bay 2. Re-circulation and reverse flow are observed in regions experiencing a lack of flow motion. As a result high temperature of the air flow and consequently high component temperatures are also experienced in the upper bays of the cabinet. A proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) methodology has been performed to develop reduced-order compact models of the PCM cabinets. The reduced-order modeling approach based on POD reduces the numerical models containing 35 x 109 DOF down to less than 20 DOF, while still retaining a great accuracy. The reduced-order models developed yields prediction of the full-field 3-D cabinet within 30 seconds as opposed to the CFD/HT simulations that take more than 3 hours using a high power computer cluster. The reduced-order modeling methodology developed could be a useful tool to quickly and accurately characterize the thermal behavior of any electronics system and provides a good basis for thermal design and optimization purposes.
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