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Title: Irregular aluminium foam and phase change material composite in transient thermal management
Authors: Mustaffar, Ahmad Fadhlan Bin
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Traction systems generate high loads of waste heat, which need to be removed for efficient operations. A new transient heat sink is proposed, which is based on salt hydrate phase change material (PCM). The heat sink would absorb heat during the short stationary phase i.e. at stations in which the PCM melts, a process accelerated by aluminium foam as it increases the rate of heat transfer within the PCM. When the train moves, the PCM is solidified via a forced convection stack. This creates a passive and efficient thermal solution, especially once heat pipe is employed as heat conduit. At the outset, the characteristics of the foam needed to be accurately determined. The foam was uncommon as its pore morphology was irregular, therefore it was scanned in a medical computed tomography (CT) scanner, which allowed for the construction of a three dimensional (3D) model. The model accuracy was enhanced by software, resulting in an extremely useful analytical tool. The model enabled important structural parameters to be measured e.g. porosity and specific surface area, which were crucial for the subsequent thermal and fluid flow analyses. A defect dense region was also detected, the effect of which was further investigated. Interestingly in the volume devoid of this defect, the porosity and specific surface area were uniform. A test rig was constructed that mimicked liquid cooling (or in the planned application, heat pipe cooling) in power electronics. At the core was a heat sink of salt hydrate PCM, impregnated within the foam. The sink with its current specifications (with liquid cooling) was able to absorb a thermal load consistent from a group of 4-5 IGBTs, which dissipated a low power of 20W per module during stops. The heating period of 1600-3500s per cycle meant the sink could be fitted to intercity locomotives. The foam increased the effective thermal conductivity by a factor of 24, from 0.45 to 10.83 W/m.K. 3D volume averaged numerical simulation was validated by experiment, which could be used to facilitate scale up or redesign for further optimization. As well as a support structure for the storage component of the system, the foam could replace conventional fins in forced convection, adding value to the potential manufacturer of the system. Heat transfer coefficient calculation incorporated the actual surface area that was derived from the 3D model, a first for metal foam studies. Results have shown a good Nu/Re correlation, comparable with other metal foam works.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

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