CFD for Electronics Cooling?

June 11, 2021 Troy Baumgardner

It goes without saying that electronics and high temperatures don’t generally mix well; overheating electronics shut down, malfunction, or completely fail. This becomes a significant issue when electronics generate heat as they are being used. If this heat is not removed it can build up, causing failures. 

Historically, hand calculations have produced conservative junction temperature estimates for individual components and boards.  These hand calculations become less effective when estimating heat transfer from one board component to another and throughout system-level assemblies.  Analysis programs can fill this gap, providing design validation for many electronic systems.  Some analysis programs, like Ansys Icepak, help engineers prevent a wide range of electrical, magnetic, and thermal issues in electronics software and are ideal for electronics cooling on component and board-level analysis.  Programs like Icepak are a subset of a larger category of analysis programs that simulate fluid flow and heat transfer.  General Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, like Ansys Fluent, has wide use for many applications and may have a better choice for electronics cooling than the more specific programs.  This can be overlooked for electronics cooling but there are two areas where CFD’s capabilities make it a good choice. 



As assembly size increases it becomes more difficult to maintain all the small details which make specific electronics software more valuable.  Examples of systems that CFD can be used to simulate range from system-level electrical components and power or control enclosures all the way up to large battery storage facilities and server rooms.  In these cases, some conservative assumptions in a CFD analysis can produce a good quality analysis with both reasonable time investment and complexity.



Many electronics assemblies are air-cooled, either by natural convection or by adding fans to create forced convection.  A general CFD program is a good choice anytime the velocity, air path, or cooling capability of airflow is complex or less defined.  A general CFD program has added the capability to identify the amount of airflow produced by either a fan or natural convection, show flow direction, and even size fans to produce the correct amount of flow through the resistance created by the assembly. 

Analysis software is a valuable tool for electronics design and validation, providing insight into temperature profiles, fan specifications, and room or enclosure design among many others.  Contact Rand Simulation to discuss any electronics cooling projects; let us help you find the right software to solve your problem. 

About the Author

Troy Baumgardner

Simulation Specialist for Fluid and Heat Transfer Applications<br><br> Interests: spending time with my family, cooking, mountain biking, reading

Follow on Linkedin More Content by Troy Baumgardner
Previous Article
Creating Solids from a Deformed Mesh in Ansys SpaceClaim
Creating Solids from a Deformed Mesh in Ansys SpaceClaim

Quite often, engineers need to set up a model not by using ideal or undeformed geometry but by using a geom...

Next Article
Next Generation Stealth Fighters Using Ansys HFSS and RCS Analysis
Next Generation Stealth Fighters Using Ansys HFSS and RCS Analysis

Dear Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, As the empire continues to improve their stealth technology for their next g...


Have Questions?
Just Ask.

First Name:
Last Name:
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!