Heat is a byproduct of operating electronics. If not managed properly, it can severely affect the reliability and performance of the component, and in turn, the system. Thermal management of electronics involves efficiently removing this waste heat and minimizing the temperature rise of the components.
Currently, the method of keeping electronics within the operating temperature range involves reducing the convective resistance, that is, increasing the heat rejection from the surface to the ambient air. The Electronics Cooling Laboratory (ECL) at GE Global Research has come up with a piezoelectric actuated thin form factor solution, known as the Dual Cool Jet (DCJ), to help efficiently dissipate heat and enhance convection. A typical avionics product requires cooling to maintain the high performance computing resources it provides for an aircraft and is limited by convective cooling.
As an intern in the ECL working with my project lead Peter de Bock, I was asked to study a way to design a system to mount an array of DCJs and a baffle on the back of an avionics computer and turn the airflow by 90° such that air flow goes over the surfaces with fins. The target of the study was to design the baffle such that the flow from the DCJ would bend with minimal energy loss (<10%). Different parameters affecting the DCJ performance were also looked into.
Under Peter’s guidance, I learned how industrial research was conducted, which was a clear, systematic approach geared towards delivering results. The conceptual ideas were 3D printed and experimentally tested. The understanding from the test results through design of experiments (DOE) influenced the final design of the baffle structure. Within six weeks we went from a concept, to having completed a DOE, to finalizing a design and fabricating the baffle structure. The pace was electric and the continuous feedback from my PL made me feel empowered.
GE GRC is a special place. Getting to see how teams leverage research efforts to advance technology used in real world applications with finite funding has been an incredible experience. The ECL group always encouraged me to ask questions and never viewed it as liability. Starting from my TL (Todd Wetzel), to my manager (Yogen Utturkar), and every GRC employee I had the pleasure of meeting, everybody was always willing to lend a hand or provide ideas to help advance the progress on my work. Outside of the lab work, the GE HR staff (Kirsten O’Brien and Julie McCoy, in particular) provided plenty of opportunities for the interns to learn about the other research areas through lunch and learn, and the lab tour series. They also provided some volunteering opportunity through the fantastic Schenectady Inner City Ministry program.
Thank you GRC for providing me with such a positive industrial experience!