Protection of Electronics from Environmental Temperature Spikes by Phase Change Materials
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Protection of electronics from high-temperature environments is desirable in applications such as harsh-environment industrial sensor networks for continuous monitoring and probing. In this paper, the use of phase change material (PCM) encapsulation of electronics is proposed as protection from environment-induced, probing-induced or electronic power burst-induced temperature spikes. An outline of the encapsulation method is given and a heat flow analysis is performed. A lumped element model is introduced and a numerical simulator is implemented. An encapsulation setup is fabricated and tested, allowing an experimental validation of the proposed method and model. The numerical simulation model is then used to study particular temperature spike scenarios. The results demonstrate that at reasonable encapsulation sizes and for commercially available phase change and insulation materials, short-term protection from large temperature spikes can be provided by the proposed method. As an indicative example, for a typical sensor node normally operating at a 20°C environment, PCM encapsulation may provide protection for 28 s of exposure to 1000°C per PCM gram.
KeywordsPhase change materials harsh environment electronics transient
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