Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Jeffrey Doom


configuration, engineering, fin design, heat sinks, heat transfer, optimization


In this study, different heatsink geometries used for electronic cooling are studied and compared to each other to determine the most efficient. The goal is to optimize heat transfer of the heat sinks studied in a range of configuration based on fin geometry. Heat sinks are thermal conductive material devices designed to absorb and disperse heat from high-temperature objects (e.g. Computer CPU). Common materials used in the manufacturing of heat sinks are aluminum and copper due to their relatively high thermal conductivity and lightweight [1]. Aluminum is used as the material for the heatsinks studied in this research project. To start, experimental results from a wind tunnel test conducted were compared to numerical results generated to establish a validation case. Best practices in running numerical simulations on heat sinks along with suitable models for simulating real-world conditions were determined and analyzed. The two main thermal performance-evaluating parameters used in this project are pressure drop (ΔP) and thermal resistance (R). Thirteen numerical CFD simulations were run on different heatsink fin extrusion geometries including the traditional rectangular plate, arc plate, radial plate, cross pin, draft pin, hexagonal pin, mixed shape pin fin, pin and plate, separated plate, airfoil plate, airfoil pin, rectangular pin, and square zig-zag plate heat sinks. It was observed that different fin geometries and dimensions affect the performance of heat sinks to varying extents. The square zig-zag plate heat sink from results obtained had the lowest thermal resistance of 0.25 K/W with the separated plate having the lowest pressure drop of 11.94 Pa. This information is relevant in the selection of fan type, size, and model of heat sink for electronics cooling. Also, another important conclusion drawn from this project is the existence of no definite correlation between the thermal resistance (R) and pressure drop (ΔP) parameters when evaluating heatsink performance.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Heat sinks (Electronics)
Heat -- Transmission.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-81)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright