Principal investigator: Aaron Wemhoff

University: Villanova University

Industry partners: QuantaCool Corporation

This project hypothesizes that the current QuantaCool, Corporation microevaporator cold plate (MCP) manufacturing approach can be replaced by a less-expensive compressed metal-foam (CMF)-based MCP with a loss in MCP effectiveness of less than 10%. 2-phase cooling using MCPs provide a more effective means than traditional air cooling to remove the heat from computer servers in data centers, and the growth in server heat output increasingly makes MCP-based cooling attractive as a cooling option. The traditional approaches to MCP manufacturing (e.g., skiving or etching micro-structured features) limits their implementation in hyperscale data center facilities where tens of thousands of servers are housed. Replacing traditionally-manufactured MCPs with CMF-based MCPs, on the other hand, could allow for large-scale production at a reduced cost. This project will explore the influence of metal foam properties, including the amount of applied metal foam compression, through designing, fabricating, and testing CMF-based MCPs to compare their performance with traditionally-fabricated MCPs. A heat exchange model will be developed to characterize the CMF-based MCPs based on CMF features. The testing will include a refrigerant-based cooling loop featuring a heat source cooled by a 2-phase MCP. The consistency of a batch of optimally-designed CMF-based MCPs will also be examined. Funding will be used to support Villanova MSME student Lucas Arrivo, and results from this work will provide the basis for his Master’s thesis, a conference publication and presentation, and a journal publication. Lucas will work closely with Manufacturing Fellow Steven Schon, the CTO of QuantaCool, Inc. The project forges a partnership between QuantaCool and PA-based metal foam supplier GoodFellow USA. The project has a strong synergy with existing data center research at Villanova in the NSF I/UCRC in Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2), which is led by PI Wemhoff.