The power consumption of electronic devices, such as semiconductor diode laser bars, has continually increased in recent years while the heat transfer area for rejecting the associated thermal energy has decreased. As a result, the generated heat fluxes have become more intense making the thermal management of thes systems more complicated. Air cooling methods are not adequate for many applications, while liquid cooled heat rejection methods can be sufficient. Significantly higher convection heat transfer coefficients and heat capacities associated with liquids, compared to gases, are largely accountable for higher heat rejection capabilities through the micro-scale systems. Forced convection in micro-scale systems, where heat transfer surface area to fluid volume ratio is much higher than similar macro-scale systems, is also a major contributor to the enhanced cooling capabilities of microchannels. There is a balance, however, in that more power is required by microchannels due to the large amount of pressure drop that are developed through such small channels. The objective of this study is to improve and enhance heat transfer through a microchannel heat exchanger using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method. A commercial software package was used to simulate fluid flow and heat transfer through the existing microchannels, as well as to improve its designs. Three alternate microchannel designs were explored, all with hydraulic diameters on the order of 300 microns. The resulting temperature profiles were analyzed for the three designs, and both the heat transfer and pressure drop performances were compared. The optimal microchannel cooler was found to have a thermal resistance of about 0.07 °C-cm2/W and a pressure drop of less than half of a bar.

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