A numerical study on the effect of thermal contact resistance and its impact on the performance of finned aluminum foam heat sinks has been conducted. Calculations are based on the solution of the volume-averaged mass, momentum, and energy equations under conditions of local thermal nonequilibrium using a finite-volume-based computational fluid dynamics code for conjugate fluid/porous/solid domains. Numerical results have been obtained for a wide range of contact resistances at the porous-solid interfaces, up to the limit of an effectively infinite resistance. As the contact resistance is increased to such high levels, the heat transfer is found to asymptote as conduction into the solid constituent of the foam is completely blocked. Even without conduction into the solid, a convective enhancement is obtained due to the presence of the foam material. It is reasoned that this is due to the thinning of the momentum boundary layers as a result of the presence of the porous material, which acts as a momentum sink. As a result of the thinner boundary layers, the flow speed near the finned surfaces and base is increased, which serves to increase the rate of convection from these surfaces. It is also found that for most reasonable interface materials, such as thermal epoxies, the impact of thermal contact resistance on the heat transfer performance in comparison to that for an ideal bond is small.

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