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Thermal Management Solutions for Line-Replaceable Unit in Modern Avionics Applications
Keywords: Avionics, Electronics Packaging, Thermal Management
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the commercial airline industry should expect to see the number of passengers traveling per year to grow from its current level of 750 million to nearly 1 billion by 2030. To meet this demand, airlines are placing orders for thousands of new aircraft over the next decade and beyond. With this increase in airline traffic, newer aircraft systems will generate an ever increasing amount of data per flight, data that allows airlines to further enhance their flight operations, flight safety, and reliability. For commercial avionics, the migration of the data acquisition and reporting functions from the traditional interface environments to newer, faster, and more network-centric architectures is creating a new generation of “smart” aircraft. Some of the critical goals in the development of the Line-Replaceable Unit (LRU) include the reduction in size and weight over previous generations, while maximizing performance and cost reduction. All of these opposing requirements make the design and fabrication very challenging. One such challenge, represented by the dissipation of high power in a confined space, makes thermal management a critical component of the overall LRU design. In addition, to increase the reliability over the lifespan of the unit, passive cooling systems are often required in place of internal fans. This presents another set of challenges to the thermal management of electronics components, such as optimizing the airflow provided by the aircraft in the electronics bay compartment. This presentation discusses some of the critical elements in thermal management such as heat sinks, heat spreader, components placement, thermal interface materials, thermal vias, thermal links, packaging approaches and cooling strategy. The design and optimization of the system are based on analytical solutions, conjugated heat transfer and experimental results. The LRU has to safely operate under various environmental conditions: ground operation, flight operation, high operating temperature and loss of cooling air where each environmental condition has different parameters for coolant airflow rate, effect of the surroundings, and ambient and coolant air temperature. Draw-Through and Blow-Through cooling analyses were performed using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) by solving the conjugated heat transfer for laminar flow with radiation in steady-state or transient regimes. Multiple approaches were identified to remove heat from the critical components through optimization of the components and subsystems. These same approaches can be also used to increase the system’s performance and reliability.
Vicentiu Grosu, Senior Mechanical Engineer
Teledyne Controls
San Pedro, CA

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