Top Thermal Challenges Facing Aerospace Electronics Design

While these issues have always existed, new trends and developments are propelling the industry forward — and providing a slew of new factors for aerospace engineers to address.

FREMONT, CA: With the possibility of catastrophic effects, aircraft engineers must be sure that their products are safe, dependable, and capable of withstanding any situation.

Aerospace electronics, unlike other industries, must withstand some of the world's harshest settings, withstand extreme weather conditions, and sustain frequent changes in temperature, airflow, and pressure. As a result, predicting how temperature and heat flow would affect a device's reliability becomes extremely difficult.

While these issues have always existed, new trends and developments are propelling the industry forward — and providing a slew of new factors for aerospace engineers to address.

Let's see some of the Thermal Challenges

Higher power density

Previously, aerospace engineers could quickly put all of the functionality they need into a single tiny chip that wasted between thirty and forty watts. However, as the demand for more functionality to be incorporated into smaller, more highly engineered devices has grown, thermal management has become difficult.

These chips now dissipate up to one hundred watts, which is three times the prior power. However, combined with the usage of smaller and smaller components with increasing power density, these chips are more likely to have heat issues. Engineers in other sectors could use air cooling techniques to solve similar problems. Traditional air conditioning systems, such as fans, can become clogged with ice in high-altitude aeroplanes. Because natural convection or airflow cannot be helpful to dissipate heat away from vital components in electronics heading for space, thermal engineers must find innovative ways to dissipate heat away from critical components.

Exposure to extreme environments

Another issue is the severe circumstances that aerospace electronics frequently get subjected to, ranging from Alaska's deepest reaches to Saudi Arabia's hot and arid desert. Not to mention that these gadgets get subjected to things like high vibrations, with takeoff and landing exerting a significant mechanical strain on the equipment and internal electronics.

At the same time, the aircraft industry is incorporating more commercial and industrial components. Unfortunately, many of these components don't rate to the required levels to function appropriately in the surroundings they're in. Given this trend, thermal engineers must fully evaluate their designs in a variety of environments. Using powerful thermal simulation software like 6SigmaET to run components through various parametric variations in a range of conditions is a critical step in testing device dependability.

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