Kevin Moore

Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Biomedical, Manufacturing & Facilities Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Ger Kelly


In the field of electronics cooling and more specifically processor cooling, the ability to cool a micro-chip is becoming a major issue. Power dissipation in home and office computers has risen from 30W to over 120W in the past 10 years, forcing heat sink designers to search for new ideas in the design of their heat spreaders.

This thesis studies in detail the fundamental technical designs used for modern day processor cooling. Using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), various different pin/fin shapes were analysed to determine which yielded maximum heat transfer and contact area with forced air flow. Elliptical and teardrop shaped pins displayed that they were efficient in maintaining a streamlined flow around the pins while maximising convective heat transfer. Experimental free convection testing was carried out on four different flat plate materials which supports the use of aluminium in the manufacture of heat sinks. Further free convection testing was carried out on three processor heat sinks, where thermal imaging demonstrated how efficient they were at spreading heat. The heat sinks were also tested to determine which type of heat sink, i.e. long fin or pins, had the best characteristics for free convection cooling.

The key recommendations resulting from simulations and experimental testing suggest that further development of the elliptical and teardrop shaped pin heat sinks should be undertaken. They show potential to be very efficient heat sinks but this needs to be investigated further.

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