Abstract

In this study, two configurations for a cold plate designed to cool a heat-generating solid planar material through a small isothermal side-section are considered. The cold plate is originally conceived by distributing (embedding) within the heat-generating material a fixed amount of a high-conductivity material. Prior work has shown a T-shaped network type emerges, under stringent assumptions, as the optimum distribution for minimizing the cold plate maximum temperature. However, this “in-plane” embedded distribution configuration is impractical for being too intrusive. A new and practical “out-of-plane” configuration is proposed with the same optimal high-conductivity material network placed on top of the low-conductivity heat-generating plane instead of being embedded in it. Using realistic considerations and specifications, several different network distributions with increased complexity are designed for both in-plane and out-of-plane configurations. Modeling and numerical simulations are then performed to compare the heat transfer effectiveness achieved by each configuration and to investigate how the high-to-low thermal conductivity ratio influences the cold plate performance. Results show the in-plane and out-of-plane configurations surprisingly yield nearly identical temperature distributions for all configurations tested, and the increase of the thermal conductivity ratio enhances the network cooling role for all cases. The results also establish the robustness of the network design by showing better cooling performance when the network complexity increases, even when some of the stringent assumptions imposed in the original conceiving of the networks are not fully satisfied.

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