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.
The loop heat pipe (LHP) is known to have a lower limit on input power. Below this limit the system may not start properly creating the potential for critical payload components to overheat. The LHP becomes especially susceptible to these low power start-up failures following diode operation, intentional shut-down of the device, or very cold conditions. These limits are affected by the presence of adverse tilt, mass on the evaporator, and noncondensible gas in the working fluid.
Thermal engineering has long been left out of the concurrent engineering environment dominated by CAD (computer aided design) and FEM (finite element method) software. Current tools attempt to force the thermal design process into an environment primarily created to support structural analysis, which results in inappropriate thermal models. As a result, many thermal engineers either build models “by hand” or use geometric user interfaces that are separate from and have little useful connection, if any, to CAD and FEM systems.