The emergence of highly functional portable electronic systems in recent times means that passive dissipation of heat in these devices may not be an option in the near future. Micro fan technology is currently being developed to address this emerging need. Past investigations by the current authors indicate that the reduction of scale of conventional electronics cooling fan design to the mini scale does not excessively impair the bulk pressure flow performance of the fan. However, the detailed velocity distribution at the outlet of mini scale axial flow fans is unknown, and so effective thermal design in systems which use mini scale fans may be difficult, as the designer does not know the path taken by the flow emerging from the fan. To address this issue, this paper presents PIV measurements performed at the outlet of a series of geometrically similar axial flow fans, whose diameters range from 120 to 6mm, and whose design is based on that of a commercially available macro scale electronics cooling fan. The measurements show that as fan scale is reduced, there is a significant change in the fan outlet velocity distribution, and a large increase in the outlet radial flow angle. As a result, a designer using a small scale axial flow fan must be aware that the region downstream of the fan, where one would normally expect high velocity flow, will in fact be uncooled. Therefore, components should be mounted radially downstream of the fan, where highest air velocities are shown to exist.

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