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WhatdesignersshouldknowaboutThermalAnalysis|ArchivecontentfromMachineDesign

WhatdesignersshouldknowaboutThermalAnalysis
Whatyouknowaboutstructuralanalysiswillhelprunanaccuratethermalanalysis.Ofcourse,there
areafewvariations.
|MachineDesign

Jun7,2007
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PaulKurowskiPresident
DesignGeneratorInc.
London,Ontario,Canada
EditedbyPaulDvorak

Heatflowsthroughasolidrodfromhotfacetocoldintheabsenceofconvection(noheatescapesalong
theway).

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Vectors(bottom)showheatflowinabarafteraddingconvection.

Conductioncoefficientsshowthatthermalconductivitiesvarywidelyamongmaterials.

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Plotscomparetemperaturedistributionsinthemicrochipassemblywithout(top)andwith(bottom)a
thermalresistancelayerseparatingthechipfromtheradiator.Outsidefaceshavethesametemperature
butthechipsurroundedbyathermalresistancelayerrunshotter.

Reflectorandlightbulbareexposedtovacuum.Theyellowsideofhousingisexposedtoair.Theblue
sideisexposedtovacuum.
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Thearrowpointstoasensorinacoffeepot.Coffeetemperatureoscillatesastheheater(notshown)
cyclesonandoff.Theplotshowsatemperaturecycle.

Theplotshowsthetemperatureatthetopofthecoolingfin(arrow)afterthepoweristurnedonat
timet=0.Everytransientthermalanalysisrequiresaninitialtemperatureandtimeduration.

Ringsaresupportedontheinnercircumferenceandloadeddownwardontheirouteredges.
Displacementsforthemodelwithaconstantmodulusofelasticity(left)significantlydifferfromthe
modelwithatemperaturedependentmodulus(right).

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Correctheatfluxcomesfrommodelswithfillets(left).Incorrectvaluesareduetosharpreentrantcorners
whichmakeheatfluxresultssingular(right).

Thermalandstructuralanalysesarethemostfrequentlyperformedfiniteelementanalyses.Bothusethe
sametypeofpartialdifferentialequationsandareanalogousinotherwaysaswell.
SIMILARITIES
Let'sstartwiththermalanalyses.Theprimaryunknownsaretemperaturesatnodesofthefiniteelement
mesh.Temperatureisscalarsoitneedsonlyonedegreeoffreedomateachnode,whetherthemodelis2D
or3Dandregardlesswhatelementsmeshthemodel.Oncetemperaturesarefoundatthenodes,theyare
interpolatedoverelementstocalculatetemperaturesintheentiremodel.Temperaturesarethen
differentiatedtofindthetemperaturegradients.Finally,thesoftwarecalculatesheatfluxbasedonthe
temperaturegradientandthermalconductivityofthematerial.
Thisismuchlikestructuralanalysisinwhichprimaryunknowns,displacements,arefirstfoundfornodes
thenareinterpolatedoverelements.Adisplacementfieldisthendifferentiatedtofindstrains,andstresses
arecalculatedbasedonstrainandmaterialelasticity.
However,displacementsarevectorsandsoaredefinedbymorethanonecomponent.Ittakestwo
components(twodegreesoffreedom)todescribenodaldisplacementsin2Dmodels,threecomponents
(threedegreesoffreedom)in3Dmodelsmeshedwithsolidelements,andsixcomponents(sixdegreesof
freedom)in3Dmodelswithshellelements.Sinceeachnodaldegreeoffreedomisanunknownittakes
morecomputingpowerforstructuralanalysisbecauseithasmoreunknowns.
Resultsfromstaticstructuralanalysisdescribeadeformedstructureinequilibriumbetweenappliedloads
andreactionsprovidedbysupports.Asteadystatethermalanalysisprovidesananalogyinwhichheat
flowsataconstantrate.It'salsoinequilibrium.
Thermalanalysisdealswithheatflowinasolidbody,sotheremustbeawayforheattoenterandtoexit
thatsolidbody.Ifheatentersabodywithnowaytoexit,thebody'stemperaturewouldtheoreticallyrise
toinfinity.Thisisanalogoustoapplyingastructuralloadtoanunsupportedmodel.Theresult:infinite
displacements.
Heatflowinginsideasolid,andheatenteringandleavingthesolid,aregovernedbydifferent
mechanisms.Heatinsidemovesbyconduction,whileheatenteringorescapingthesolidmovesby
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convection,orradiation,orboth.
Heattransferbyconduction,forexample,isheatflowingthroughawall.Itisdescribedby:
Qconduction=KA(ThotTcold)/LwhereQconduction=rateofheatflow,K=thermalconductivity,A=
areaofthewall,Thot=temperatureonthehotside,Tcold=temperatureonthecoldside,andL=wall
thickness.
Heattransferbyconvectionmovesheattoorfromanexternalfaceofasolidbodyandsurrounding
fluid,suchasair,water,oroil.Theheatmovedbyconvectionisdescribedby:Qconvection=hA(TsTf)
whereQconvection=flowratebyconvection,h=convectioncoefficient,Ts=surfacetemperature,
andTf=fluidtemperature.
Theconvectioncoefficient,h,stronglydependsonwhetherconvectionisnaturalorforced.Natural
convectiontakesplaceonlyinthepresenceofgravitybecausefluidmovementdependsonthedifference
inthespecificgravitybetweencoldandhotfluid.Forcedconvection,suchasforcingairaroundawarm
solidwithafan,doesnotneedgravity.Convectioncoefficientsalsostronglydependonthetypeof
mediumsuchasair,steam,water,oroil,whichsurroundsthesolidbody.
Nowconsiderasolidbarinwhichoneendiskeptat300Kandtheotherat600K.Thisisanalogousto
prescribeddisplacementsinstructuralanalysis.Thetemperaturedifferencebetweentheendscreatesheat
flow.Theheatflowstabilizesafteraninitialtransientperiod.
Assumethebarisinsulatedsonoheatescapesthroughthesides.Allheatenteringonefacemustexit
throughtheother.Heatfluxisavectorandcanbeplottedusingarrows(besidecommonlyusedfringe
plots).Allheatfluxvectorsaretangenttotheoutsidefacesofthebar,becauseintheabsenceof
convection,noheatmovesacrosstheboundaries.
Addingconvectionsignificantlychangesheattransfer.Forexample,makethesurroundingfluidawater
temperaturebelow300K.Thetwoendsmaintaintheirprescribedtemperatures,butheatenteringthe
modelthroughthehotfacenowdoesnotmakeittotheotherend.Itallgetsdissipatedbyconvection.In
fact,thedirectionofheatflownearthecoldfacereverses.Definingalowerconvectioncoefficientwould
eliminatethisbackflowofheat.
Consideraheatsinkinwhichaceramicmicrochipgeneratesheatthroughoutitsentirevolume.Heat
travelstothealuminumradiatorbyconduction,thendissipatestoambientairbyconvection.
Addingacoolingfanorimmersingtheradiatorinwaterdoesnotchangethenatureofheartransferin
theheatsink.Theradiatorstillremovesheatbyconvection.FromanFEApointofview,theonly
differencebetweenair,water,oroilascoolingmediumandbetweennaturalandforcedconvectionsare
differentconvectioncoefficients.
Convectionrateontheoutsidefacesoftheradiatordeterminesthetemperatureofthosefaces,even
thoughthemicrochipproducesthesameamountofheat.Incaseofnaturalconvectionandalow
convectioncoefficient,theoutsidefinsgethotterbecauseofasteepertemperaturegradientbetweenthe
radiatorandambientair(TsTa)isrequiredtomovethegivenamountofheat.Incaseofforced
convection,(ahighervalueofconvectioncoefficient)theradiatorstayscoolerbecauseasmaller
temperaturegradientmovesthesameamountofheatfromsolidbodytosurroundingfluid.Plottingheat
fluxasvectorsletsanalystsseeheatmovementfromradiatortoambientair.
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There'sonemoreimportantissue:thermalresistanceattheboundarybetweenthemicrochipand
radiator.Notwosolidsurfacesareeverinperfectcontact.Therearealwaystinyairgapsbetweenthem.
Therearetwomodesofheattransferthroughtheboundarybetweentwocontactingfaces.Thefirstis
conductionthroughpointsofsolidtosolidcontact,whichworkswell.Thesecondisconductionthrough
thegaps,whichispoor.Toaccountforthis,userscanaddathermalresistancelayertotheFEAmodel.
Thermalresistancelayersdonotchangehowmuchheatisgeneratedorchangetheoutsidetemperature
oftheradiator.However,inthepresenceofathermalresistancelayer,themicrochipmustrunhotter
becauseahighertemperaturegradientacrossthethermalresistancelayerisrequiredtopushheatacross
it.
Heattransferbyradiationcanbeignoredbecauseattheworkingtemperaturesoftheheatsink,it's
negligible,althoughtherearetimeswhenitisnot.
HEATTRANSFERBYRADIATION
Radiationmovesheatbetweenasolidbodyanditssurroundingsbycarryingitoffaselectromagnetic
radiation.
Heatexchangebyradiationalwaystakesplace,regardlessoftemperatureandwhetherbodiesareina
fluidorvacuum.Atroomtemperatures,however,radiationislowcomparedtoconvectiveheattransfer.
Hence,it'softenignored.
Allbodiesradiatethermalenergy.Radiationmovesheatbetweenbodiesofdifferenttemperaturesand
cansendheatawayintospace.Theheatexchangedbyradiationbetweenfacesoftwosolidbodieswith
temperaturesT1andT2isdescribedby:
Qradiation=s(T14T24)
whereQradiation=heatflowbyradiation,s=StefanBoltzmanconstant,and=emissivityofthe
radiatingface.Becauseheattransferbyradiationisproportionaltothefourthpoweroftheabsolute
temperature,theamounttransferredbecomessignificantathighertemperatures.
Forexample,consideraspotlightilluminatingalargevacuumchamber.Thechamberissolargewecan
ignoreheatreflectedfromchamberwallsbacktothelight.Thelightbulbandreflectorareinavacuum,
whilethebackofthealuminumhousingissurroundedbyroomtemperatureair.
Heatradiatesfromthelightbulbtotheoutsidespaceandtheparabolicreflector.Onlyasmallportionof
heatentersthehousingdirectlybyconductionwherethebulbcontactsthehousing.Conductionmoves
heatinsidethehousingfromvacuumsidetoairside.Convectiondissipatesheatfromfacesexposedto
air.
Becauseradiationbecomeseffectiveonlyathightemperatures,thelightbulbmustgethottodissipatethe
generatedheat.Thetemperatureofthealuminumhousingispracticallyuniformbecauseheatconducts
easilyinaluminum.
Thisexampleillustratesthatcoolinginvacuumisamajorchallengeforspacecraftdesigners.Even
thoughspacevehiclesoperateinnear0K,electroniccomponentscaneasilyoverheatbecauseradiation,
theonlycoolingmechanism,iseffectiveonlyathightemperatures.Toreachsteadystate,wheretheheat

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generatedequalstheheatdissipatedbyradiation,anelectronicdevicemustreachhighertemperatures
thanthesamedevicecooledbyconvection,whichiseffectiveatlowertemperatures.
Theheatsinkandspotlightdealtwithheattransferinsteadystateandwithenoughtimetostabilizeheat
flow.Ananalysisofsteadystateheattransferisnotbasedontheinitialtemperaturesorhowlonga
systemtooktoreachasteadystate.Thatcouldtakesecondsordays.
TRANSIENTTHERMAL
Acoffeepotandtheheateritsitsonprovideanexampleoftransientthermalanalysis.Theheaterturns
onwhencoffeetemperaturedropsbelow88Candturnsoffwhenitreaches93C.Becauseofthermal
inertia,coffeetemperaturesoscillateoutsideofthisrange.
Twoheattransfermechanismsareatworkinthepot.Acombinationofconvectionandconduction(the
pot'sbottomdoesnotcompletelycontacttheheater)movesheatfromheatertoglass.Conductionmoves
heatacrosstheglasstosurroundingairandtothecoffee.Convectionmovesheatfromthecoffee'stop
surfaceandfromexternalsurfacesofthepot.Animportantconsiderationinthecoffeepotmodelisthe
definitionoftheconductioncoefficientforcoffee.Inreality,heattransferincoffeetakesplace
predominantlybyconvectionduetofluidmovementinducedbyheating.InanFEAmodel,however,
coffeemustbemodeledasasolidbodybecausethesoftwarecannotsimulatefluidflow.Allheattransfer
incoffeemustbemodeledbyconduction,soanartificiallyhighconductivitymustbeassignedtocoffeeto
compensateforthelackofconvectiveheattransfer.Also,nophasechangeeffects(boiling)canbe
modeledeither.Infact,FEAisnotrecommendedtosolvethisproblem,whichwouldbebetterhandled
usingComputationalFluidDynamics(CFD)tools.Showingthisproblemprovidesanopportunityto
emphasizethefactthatFEAisatoolforanalysisofheattransferinsolids,notinfluids.
Asolidbodywithheatflowingthroughitwillnotallbeatonetemperature.Consequently,different
portionsofthebodyexpandandshrinkatdifferentrates.Stressescausedbythisexpansionorshrinkage
arecalledthermalstresses.
Supposehotcoffee(93C)ispouredintoaporcelainmug.Whatarethethermalstressesinthemug?To
findout,runathermalanalysisthatrevealsthetemperaturedistribution.Applyatemperatureof93Cto
theinsidefacesofthemuganddefineconvectioncoefficientsfortheoutsidefaces.Becausecoolingis
relativelyslow,useasteadystatethermalanalysistocalculatethetemperaturedistributioninthecoffee
mug.Itwon'tbeuniform,sotherewillbethermalstresses.Havingfoundatemperaturefieldinthemug,
calculatethermalstressesbyexportingthetemperaturefieldfromthermalanalysistostructuralstatic
analysis.
NONLINEARTHERMALANALYSIS
Allexamplessofarinvolvedpropertiescharacterizingheattransfermaterialconductivity,convection
coefficients,emissivity,andheatpowerthatremainconstantandindependentoftemperature.These
assumptionsareoftenacceptablefortraditionalengineeringmaterialssuchassteelandaluminum,which
areoftensubjectedtoanarrowrangeofoperatingtemperatures.
Thermalanalysisofadvancedmaterialssuchascomposites,mayrequireanonlinearapproachwhenconductivity
isafunctionoftemperature,whileheatloadandconvectioncoefficientsarefunctionsoftemperatureandtime.
Furthermore,propertiesthatdeterminestructuralresponse,suchasthemodulusofelasticity,mayalsobe
functionsoftemperature.

Toillustrate,consideracomponentheatedsoastocauseanonuniformtemperaturedistribution.Also
makethematerial'smodulusofelasticitytemperaturedependent.Resultsfromsuchastructuralstatic
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analysisunderabendingloadshowthatignoringtheeffectoftemperatureonthemodulusofelasticity
producesa40%displacementerror.
MOREMODELINGCONSIDERATIONS
Similaritiesbetweenthermalandstructuralanalysismeanmostmodelingtechniquesareidenticaland
thatskillsacquiredinonetypeofanalysisareusefulintheother.Thedifferenceinmodelingtechniques,
however,beginswiththermalboundaryconditions.Thedefinitionofsymmetricboundaryconditionsin
thermalanalysisisbasedontheobservationthatifgeometryandboundaryconditionsaresymmetrical,
noheatflowsthroughtheplaneofsymmetry.Therefore,aftersimplifyingthemodelto12(or14incaseof
adoublesymmetry),nothingmustbedonetothefacesexposedbycuts.Aconvectioncoefficientofzero
forthosefacesmeansnoheatflowsacrossthem.
Analysisofheatfluxrequiresadetailededgemodel.Sharpreentrantcornersthosenotblendedwith
joiningsurfacesarenotsuitableforheatfluxanalysesnearcorners.Heatfluxishighandmeaningless,
asingularity,insharpinsidecorners.Thisisdirectlyanalogoustosharpinsidecornersthatgenerate
stresssingularitiesinstructuralmodels.

Heatconvectioncoefficientsvaryamongdifferentmedia.
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