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CFD and Experimental Tests Help Improve Fan Models for Electronics
Posted Wed September 30, 2015 @08:31AM
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Application Cooling fan air flow inside electronic devices is critical for component cooling. Yet traditional representation of the fan by the Pressure-Flow (PQ) curve and swirl ratio make for a simple fan model but over-simplifies the actual physics.

In this narrated interview, Professor Hajime Nakamura, from the National Defense Academy of Japan, discusses how the combination of CFD simulations using Cradle SC/Tetra software and experimental tests were used to explore and improve cooling fan model characterization.


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Professor Nakamura started investigating fan models after learning of the issues at the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers RC 181 Research Project mmeeting. As high density packaging techniques were common at the time, engineers wanted to use CFD software to evaluate how to best allocate the device parts to dissipate heat. When applying a fan to dissipate heat from an electronic device, the engineers usually ignored the detailed configuration of impeller and its rotation by using simplified fan models for CFD analysis. However, some engineers have repeatedly pointed out that analysis results were often inaccurate, even when PQ characterisitc values provided by manufacturers were used. The challenge was clear - they needed an accurate fan model for highly accurate CFD analysis. This motivated Professor Nakamura to address the issue.

Over a number of evaluations, Professor Nakamura became aware of three major problems that needed to be solved. First, the denitions of pressure employed by the fan manufacturer and the CFD software developer diered. Second, as the packaging density increased, the variation in the PQ characteristic values also increased. Third, the velocity distribution of the air flow generated by the fans could not be predicted from the PQ characteristics. In search of CFD software that could be used to solve these problems, Professor Nakamura came to Cradle software. He started using SC/Tetra in 2007 to compare the results from fan tests and CFD analysis.

Through Professor Nakamura's research, SC/Tetra software and experimental tests were used to explore and improve two aspects of cooling fan model characterization:

  • Using a rotational force coefficient to express the angular velocity output from the fan, and
  • Assessing the impact of highly packed components near the fan.

Read the interview for more information.

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