Heat pipes coolers are like the Loch Ness monster… lot’s of people are speaking about, but few people have really tested them! This technology sounds a little bit mysterious for people coming from a pure electronics background ! How can such a thing (looking like a basic copper tube), would be able to convey something like 1000 time more calories than the best typical thermal conductor in electronics : copper ! You will certainly find the answer in our dedicated page to the heat pipe functioning, or to heat pipe page on wikipedia, if you want to go deeper in the subject.
Thermal management challenges in power electronics
As it was explained in our market analysis article about SIC semiconductors, power electronics is currently at the beginning of a revolution. Semiconductors are now able to work up to incredibly high frequency (50 to 100kHz), with excellent efficiency, and low losses. Because working at high frequency leads to reducing size and weight, this revolution increasesthe density of power losses.
New thermal management challenges are in front of us. But good news, heat pipes are here to help solving them ! Here are the main reasons why ?
Heat pipe advantages
- High thermal conductivity. Because heat pipes are using one of the most efficient way to convey calories : phase change, their high thermal conductivity will be the best advantage to solve your thermal management issues.
- Temperature range. It is mainly depending from the working fluid inside the heat pipe. Considering most of the power electronics application going from 50 to 200 degC, you will not find a better fluid than water. Good news, water is not dangerous and not explosive as you may know… Bad news, water is electrically conductor as you may know too. Electronics designer never sleeps soundly when water flows close to their components ! If you feel a bit of apprehension, read our next point.
- Reliability. Heat pipes are excellent in reliability because they use no mooving mechanical parts and need no energy like electricity. No worry about maintaining the motor or the filter of your pump like in a cooling loop. The difference of temperature is the only “motor” which garanty an endless functionning. Heat pipes are commonly used in aerospace application and railway, where life cycle of the product can be up to 50 years !
We hope this article have contributed to better understanding of heat pipes.
For any question, enquiry, contact COUGAR ELECTRONICS here. Our thermal engineers will be happy to help 🙂