Experimental investigation of inserts configurations and PCM type on the thermal performance of PCM based heat sinks

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Efficient thermal management in portable electronic devices is necessary to ensure sufficiently low operating temperatures for reliability, increased installed functions, and user comfort. Using Phase Change Materials (PCMs) based heat sinks offers potential in these applications. However, PCMs generally suffer from low thermal conductivities; therefore it is important to enhance their thermal conductivity and improve cooling performance. This study presents experimental investigation of the effects of PCM material, heat sink designs and power levels on PCM based heat sinks performance for cooling electronic devices. Six PCMs were used including paraffin wax (as reference material), two materials based on mixture of inorganic hydrated salts, two materials based on mixture of organic substances and one material based on a mixture of both organic and inorganic materials. Also, six heat sink designs were tested: one with single cavity, two with parallel fin arrangement, two with cross fin arrangement, and one with honeycomb insert inside the single cavity. Heat sinks thermal performance was investigated using paraffin wax type PCM with power inputs ranging from 3. W to 5. W. Results showed that the inclusion of PCM can reduce heating rates and peak temperatures of heat sinks with increasing the number of fins can enhance heat distribution to PCM leading to lower heat sinks peak temperatures. Also, the use of honeycomb inserts to replace machined finned structures has shown comparable thermal performance. Regarding the PCM type, the material with the lowest melting temperature has shown the best performance in terms of lowest operating temperature and longest duration of low heat sink temperatures.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1356
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date18 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Phase Changing Material (PCM), Honeycomb, Heat sinks, Cooling, Portable electronic devices