Thermal management targets the enemy of electronics: excessive heat

Heat threatens the longevity and performance of electronics, especially vehicular electronics (vetronics), in mil-aero environments, warned Gerald Janicki, senior director of Meggitt Defense Systems Inc. in Irvine, Calif., in remarks to the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum in March in San Diego.

Apr 1st, 2008

By Courtney E. Howard

SAN DIEGO—Heat threatens the longevity and performance of electronics, especially vehicular electronics (vetronics), in mil-aero environments, warned Gerald Janicki, senior director of Meggitt Defense Systems Inc. in Irvine, Calif., in remarks to the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum in March in San Diego.

Among the potential sources of heat are computer processors, solar loads, thermal management systems that make heat, and the vehicle itself, Janicki explains.

Trends driving the need for thermal management, says Janicki, include the following: network-centric warfare driving higher functional density electronics, current and planned military platforms electronics requiring from several kilowatts to several hundreds of kilowatts, and thermal management becoming a mission-critical function and subsystem in support of key vetronics.

“Thermal management systems need to be simple, modular, and upgradeable to cost-effectively support COTS electronics on legacy and future military platforms,” Janicki notes.

The recommended solution set, says Janicki, includes: ruggedized conduction-cooled cards with thermal spreaders, LFT enclosures with self-contained LFT side-wall cooling, an affordable active cooling and heating system, and modular platform integration.

“We talked to the soldiers; they want cooling,” Janicki insists, referencing increased heat dissipation from expanded in-vehicle electronics. “Thermal management is the central issue today.”

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