ANSYS Advantage SPOTLIGHT ON THERMAL MANAGEMENT. Volume X
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DESIGNING HOT PRODUCTS
Designing cutting-edge products today often means getting them to work under extreme conditions, which can make it challenging to manage the energy generated by the product.
My most vivid experience of this occurred when engineers from Goodrich Aerostructures (now UTC Aerospace Systems) described how they design and test commercial aircraft landing brakes. If the pilot of a widebody jet decides to abort takeoff at any time while accelerating down the runway, the FAA mandates that the brakes must stop the aircraft, completely and safely, without endangering the passengers. This requires converting the kinetic energy of an 850-ton aircraft racing at 170+ mph to frictional heat and dissipating it to the surroundings in just minutes! Watching this process in action during testing reveals mechanical engineering at its best — the brakes glow white-hot while bringing the massive, speeding vehicle to a halt.
In this instance and many more, heat must be controlled for optimal system operation. Running a chemical reactor at less-than-ideal temperatures will reduce the product yield, while too high a temperature might cause a dangerous runaway reaction, or damage the reactor. Overheating integrated circuits (IC) can cause stress and IC package delamination, but excessive cooling means consuming more electricity than is necessary to power fans. Designers of electronic systems must strike a balance between electrical performance and physical size.