When placed on top of a component to be cooled, a liquid cold plate absorbs the heat from the component and distributes it to the heat transfer fluid. liquid cold plates are widely used in electronic cooling applications in many process industries.
The miniaturization of high-powered electronic devices - and the necessary component density that comes with it - has prompted engineers to explore increasingly sophisticated cooling methods. As a result, the growing trend in electronics thermal management includes liquid cooling systems. This has prompted the re-introduction and re-conceptualization of liquid cold plate technology.
Thermal management of high-power electronics is a critical component of the design process. Ensuring proper equipment cooling optimizes its performance and extends the mean time between failures (MTBF). To ensure proper system operation, engineers must establish thermal parameters from the system level to the junction temperature of the hottest device.
As temperatures have increased, the use of liquid cold plates in closed-loop liquid cooling systems has become a familiar and successful means of temperature management. This is true in many industries, including industrial and process applications with higher heat fluxes and temperature environments than other electronic systems. Air cooling is insufficient or requires infeasible flow rates for these high-powered components and systems.
As wide-bandgap materials - particularly silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) - become more prevalent in the industry, liquid cooling will become increasingly necessary.
liquid cold plates are used in industrial environments primarily to cool electronic equipment and power devices within motors; automation controls; large cooling systems, such as refrigeration or air conditioning units; boilers and dryers; and machine tools.
According to a recent North Carolina State University study, IBGT devices are available in voltage and current ratings to meet the needs of new industrial drive inverter designs. The study also noted that these industrial motors using IGBT power modules are used in manufacturing, water, waste management, food processing, plastics processing, and chemical processing. liquid cold plates are critical for cooling IGBTs because they are manufactured for direct connection to the power module. liquid cold plates provide direct localized cooling for high-power modules and higher heat transfer at a lower flow rate than air cooling solutions.
Why is it important to provide thermal management of IGBTs? A recent study published by DfR Solutions explains that thermal conditions accelerate the breakdown of electrical components, which means greater power and switching losses over a shorter lifetime.
The different types of liquid cold plates
▪ Tube liquid cold plate
▪ Micro/mini channels cold plate
▪ FSW liquid cold plate
▪ Die Casting liquid cold plate
▪ Brazing liquid cold plates
(If you want to know more about the different types of liquid cold plates, you can check our article “What is liquid cold plate heat dissipation”)
Considerations for liquid cold plates in industrial environments
One of the primary considerations for incorporating liquid cold plates into industrial applications is the type of fluid that will be used to carry the heat away from the equipment. For example, one natural choice - standard water - may not be the best choice for a micro-channel liquid cold plate. Particle buildup may lead to clogging and require more regular maintenance and cleaning. Although water is a good conductor of heat, it may not withstand harsh operating environments because of its freezing and boiling temperatures. Additives such as glycol can be used to modify the properties of coolants (including water).
In practice, temperature range requirements are a significant consideration for liquid cold plate fluids. Some fluids have lower freezing temperature than water but have a low heat transfer capability. The fluid selected must also be compatible with the internal metal of the liquid cold plate to limit any potential corrosion.
The most common fluids used with liquid cold plates in liquid cooling systems include：
▪ Deionized water.
▪ Inhibited glycol and aqueous solutions
▪ Dielectric fluids.
In addition, engineered fluids (nanofluids) are designed to enhance thermal conductivity or perform better in specific operating environments. However, there are still concerns about the accumulation of nanoparticles and possible clogging in the cooling plate or pump.
Recirculating coolers can be added to improve the performance of liquid cold plates and liquid cooling systems. The cooler is used to regulate the coolant and reduce the temperature of the fluid before it is pumped into the cooling plate. Coolers provide precise temperature control for applications where temperature range, reliability, and consistency are critical. In the harsh environments of many industrial applications, attempts to cool high-power IGBTs may need to include coolers to optimize the heat transfer capability of the liquid cold plate.
The growing popularity of IGBTs and other high-power devices in industrial electronics requires the thermal performance of liquid cooling systems, icy plates placed directly on the device to transfer as much heat as possible. Reducing junction temperatures to normal operating conditions is critical for devices to operate at optimal levels for more extended periods, avoiding switching or power losses that can disrupt the entire system.
While liquid cold plates have a long history in thermal management, new designs and technological advances have made them more effective than ever in cooling industrial applications.
If you need a liquid cold plate or want to learn more about our liquid cooling services, you can see more on our pages "Liquid Cooling Solution" and "Liquid cold plate". Your professional liquid cooling solution provider - Winshare.
Reprinted from Winshare Thermal - “The Application of Liquid cold plate”