Thermoelectric couples are solid-state devices capable of generating electrical power from a temperature gradient (known as the Seebeck effect) or converting electrical energy into a temperature gradient (known as the Peltier effect). Thermoelectric coolers, being solid state devices, have no moving parts which makes them inherently reliable and ideal for cooling components in a system sensitive to mechanical vibration. The ability to use TECs to heat as well as cool makes them suitable for applications requiring temperature stabilization of a device over a specified temperature range.

This document summarizes the activities of the WPI Nanosat-3 (N3) program proposed in response to a BAA by the AFOSR and AIAA (University Nanosat Program, AFOSR BAA 2003-02) . Specifically, we proposed to have WPI undergraduate and graduate student teams under the direct guidance of WPI faculty, develop a nanosat that would be used as a vehicle to investigate:

SINDA/FLUINT (Ref 1-7) is the NASA-standard heat transfer and fluid flow analyzer for thermal control systems. Because of its general formulation, it is also used in other aerospace specialties such as environmental control (ECLSS) and liquid propulsion, and in terrestrial industries such as electronics packaging, refrigeration, power generation, and transportation industries.

This paper describes revolutionary advances in SINDA/FLUINT, the NASA-standard heat transfer and fluid flow analyzer, changing it from a traditional point-design simulator into a tool that can help shape preliminary designs, rapidly perform parametrics and sensitivity studies, and even correlate modeling uncertainties using available test data.

The major influence on the reliability of electronics is temperature, yet thermal/fluid modeling is plagued with uncertainties and unknowns. Nonetheless, if appropriate values of these unknown parameters are available for any specific electronics package, then its temperature response can be accurately predicted using modern thermal/fluid analysis tools.

Thankfully, the age of stand-alone fixed-input simulation tools is fading away in favor of more flexible and integrated solutions. “Concurrent engineering” once meant automating data translations between monolithic codes, but sophisticated users have demanded more native integration and more automated tools for designing, and not just evaluating point designs. Improvements in both interprocess communications technology and numerical solutions have gone a long way towards meeting those demands.

This paper describes the application of the general purpose SINDA/FLUINT thermohydraulic analyzer to the modeling of vapor compression (VC) cycles such as those commonly used in automotive climate control and building HVAC systems. The software is able to simulate transient operation of vapor compression cycles, predicting pressures, coefficients of performance, and condenser/evaporator liquid positions in a closed two-phase system with a fixed fluid charge.

Thermal analysis is typically performed using a point design approach, where a single model is analyzed one analysis case at a time. Changes to the system design are analyzed by updating the thermal radiation and conduction models by hand, which can become a bottleneck when attempting to adopt a concurrent engineering approach. This paper presents the parametric modeling features that have been added to Thermal DesktopTM to support concurrent engineering. The thermal model may now be characterized by a set of design variables that are easily modified to reflect system level design changes.