Computers are crucial to nearly every endeavor in the modern world. Some computers, particularly those used in military applications, are required to endure extreme conditions with limited maintenance and few parts. Units such as these will hereafter be referred to as “rugged computers.” This series of experiments aims to produce improvements to rugged computers currently in service. Using heat pipes and finned heat sinks on an enclosed box, a computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) is able to reject heat without suffering contamination from unforgiving environments. A modular prototype was designed to allow for three distinct cases; a case with no heat pipes and fins, a cast with heat-pipes mounted internally with exterior fins and a case with heat-pipes extended externally with exterior fins. Each case was tested at three different heat loads, with a copper plate heated by a silicone heat strip simulating the heat load generated by a CPU. Each case/load combination was run many times to check for repeatability. The aim of this research is to discover the ideal case for maximum heat transfer from the CPU to the external environment. In addition to the experiments, numerical simulation of these modular prototypes with different designs of heat pipes were conducted in this research. Creating an accurate model for computer simulations will provide validation for the experiments and will prove useful in testing cases not represented by the modular prototype. The flow and heat transfer simulations were conducted using Autodesk CFD. The aim here is to create a model that accurately reflects the experimentally-verified results from the modular prototype’s cases and loads, thereby providing a base from whence further designs can branch off and be simulated with a fair degree of accuracy.

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