In any transportation application, safety and reliability reign supreme. From a thermal management perspective, that typically means developing solutions with sufficient thermal margins, low energy consumption, and low maintenance requirements. The ultimate thermal solution depends entirely on the power levels, operating conditions, and environmental requirements; it is important to have an experienced thermal partner—such as ACT—to evaluate these specifications. In partnering with ACT, our customers gain access to our engineering expertise and our product portfolio, leading to optimal solutions that can be efficiently integrated into the final system.
Thermal Solutions for the Railway Industry
When it comes to rail transport, thermal solutions need to be rugged and compact to survive significant vibrations and varying ambient conditions. They also must be packaged so that they do not interfere with rail operations. By developing solutions and products which are innovative, reliable, safe, and easy to install, ACT meets the high standards this industry demands. Our products routinely enable higher degrees of system-level functionality due to thermal performance gains, and they contribute to increased efficiency and reliability.
- Trackside: ACT’s line of sealed enclosure cooling units provides a NEMA-rated seal for vital signaling, radiofrequency, and autonomous equipment controls. Keeping trackside electronics cabinets free from dirt, debris, and extreme environmental temperature variances are key functions of the cooling unit line. User-friendly units with plug-and-play features make for a quick install into any cabinet, and a variety of models are available.
- On Board: Control and power electronics cabinets, located onboard the locomotive, are critical to powering the guidance and braking systems as well as other operational equipment. These systems can house numerous IGBTs, VFDs, and other components that generate significant amounts of heat. While off-the-shelf enclosure coolers may fulfill certain rail requirements, custom designs are often required to meet the unique power capacities and form factors on board. ACT has partnered with industry-leading rail electronics systems providers to develop the highest performing custom sealed enclosure coolers.
Other Railway Thermal Management Technologies
HiK™ Plates (Conduction Plates) are often used to expand the limits of custom air-cooled heat sinks.
- Loop Thermosyphons provide a best-in-class combination of power capacity and form factor for a passive, high-power solution.
- Pumped Two-Phase (P2P) Cooling is used in rail electronics for high-power, system-level heat rejection requirements.
Thermal Management Implications for Electric Aircraft
The aviation industry has a historic track record of balancing innovation with safety and regulations. Traditional aircraft design is continuously evolving as new technology becomes available, and more capable thermal management is required at each iteration. Hybrid and all-electric aircraft, which rely more on electronics and electric propulsion than the combustion engine, will drive an even greater reliance on efficient thermal management in the coming years. In all cases, the aircraft industry will continue to require high-performance, lightweight, rugged thermal systems.
Pumped Two Phase (P2P) Cooling applications offer an innovative solution for the complexities of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) systems. EAP systems utilize electrical motors to provide some or all of the thrust for an aircraft. Potential benefits of EAP include (1) low carbon emission, (2) low noise, (3) reduced fuel consumption, (4) low operating cost, and (5) high performance. To realize this vision, thermal management solutions must be developed to manage waste heat from batteries, power electronics (including onboard computing), displays and entertainment, and avionics. It is important for the thermal solution to require low energy consumption while providing high-capacity cooling. Pumped Two-Phase (P2P) solutions offer high performance, low energy consumption, and compact/lightweight packaging. For most applications, P2P offers the lowest cost per kW of heat rejection available.
Other Electric Aircraft Technologies
- HiK™ Plates (Conduction Plates) are frequently used in military and commercial avionics boxes.
- Liquid Loop Cooling is commonplace in commercial aircraft to provide distance transfer from components to heat sinks.
- Phase Change Material (PCM) Heat Sinks store heat for local cooling of takeoff and landing electronics and automation.
Thermal Management of Automotive & Electric Vehicles (EVs)
The automotive industry is one of the most challenging industries to enter due to the strength of existing companies and price consciousness. The existing ideals of pumped fluid to collect and transfer heat to a primary radiator have been an adequate thermal solution and continue to evolve with higher-performing cold plates, including mini and micro channel coolers. The introduction of Electric Vehicles (EVs) brings new opportunities and challenges. The vehicle itself has a significant number of power electronics and batteries that require temperature stability, and the support equipment—such as charging stations—can be widespread and subject to all weather extremes. As the EV market continues to evolve and push innovation, the ability to drive further per-battery charge will, in time, cause the thermal management challenges to increase as well.
ACT’s Vapor Compression Coolers and Tekgard® brand of environmental control units are premier thermal solutions to keep up with the evolution of EV charging stations. As the number of electric vehicles on the road increases and government agencies offer tax incentives to host charging stations, it’s paramount for these stations to provide sufficient energy in ever-shorter timeframes. These stations are also located anywhere and everywhere, so thermal solutions need to survive the elements and operate in near-desert conditions. For high-power applications in extremely hot environments, vapor compression technology is required to provide sub-ambient cooling and temperature control. ACT’s VCC enclosure coolers and Tekgard® cooling solutions utilize high-performance vapor compression. This technology can be customized and miniaturized for each unique EV charging station. Once the solution is developed, ACT utilizes common components and integration strategies to maintain economic price points.
Other Automotive Technologies
- HiK™ Plates (Conduction Plates) are used to spread the heat of critical electronics components to cooler regions.
- Custom Cold Plates are used for high heat flux liquid cooling.
- Enclosure Cooling Units are off-the-shelf solutions for lower-power or above-ambient cooling in charging stations.
ACT offers thermal analysis, design, prototyping, and volume manufacturing services. We have thermal engineers with years of practical experience, custom and commercial software for thermal analysis and design, and a manufacturing operation certified to meet the latest ISO 9001 and AS9100 quality standards. We’re quite flexible in how we work with our customers. Big company or small, simple fabrication or revolutionary thermal design – We can handle it all.
Contact us today to discuss your thermal challenges!