The More Electric Aircraft (MEA) is a system architecture concept for the aircraft that reduces fuel consumption and environmental load while improving safety, reliability, and maintainability. MEA architecture replaces some of the conventional hydraulic and/or mechanical control system with electric motor-driven system, integrates system power management into the aircraft/engine controls, and optimizes the aircraft geometry by flexibly arranging the accessory devices. The primary challenge to realize the MEA concept is how to manage the heat from these additional power electronic devices. The authors’ group proposed novel cooling system, the Autonomous Air-Cooling System (AACS) which cools the power electronics of the motor devices distributed in the aircraft. In AACS, each power electronic device (e.g. motor controller) is air-cooled by heat sinks connected to compact blowers. This system is very simple and efficient since it re-uses the cabin air and needs no additional coolant.
One of the key technologies which realize AACS is an efficient heat sink. In this study, at first the performance evaluation targeting a single-aisle 180-seater aircraft was performed. In the analysis, a plate-fin heat sink was adopted, and the pressure loss and heat transfer was estimated by using empirical correlations. In the analysis, the value of heat generation was assumed from power demand for each operation condition, and the required mass flow rate of cooling air was calculated so as for the enclosure temperature of the power electronics to be 80°C which was the allowable maximum temperature of the motor controller. The effect of the fin geometry on the cooling performance was also examined by varying the geometric parameters (fin height, thickness, and spacing). In order to further enhance the cooling performance without increasing the pressure loss, the water-mist injection to the cooling air flow was adopted and its effect was analytically confirmed. In addition, the effectiveness of the water-mist injection on the cooling performance was verified by performing experiments for a plate-fin heat sink manufactured by a wire electric discharge method.