Thermal Management of Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistor Modules by Air and Liquid Cooling: A Numerical Study

Document Type : Original Article


School of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Iran


The numerical investigation focuses on the thermal management of three Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) modules, commonly utilized in power inverters. Two distinct cooling methodologies are explored: an air-cooled heat sink and a liquid-cooled cold plate. Four configurations of the air-cooled heat sink are analyzed and compared, encompassing a natural-convection setup, a forced parallel-flow arrangement, and two forced impingement-flow configurations utilizing different fans. The study selects a suitable coolant for the liquid-cooled cold plate based on the prevailing operating conditions. The maximum total heat dissipation rate for the three IGBT modules, comprising both switching and conductive power dissipation rates, is determined to be 1200 W under peak load conditions. The air-cooled and liquid-cooled scenarios are evaluated across diverse operational parameters, including varying ambient temperatures and heat dissipation rates. The findings reveal that natural convection is viable only for total heat dissipation rates below 300 W. Conversely, the forced impingement-flow air cooling configuration, employing large fans, and the liquid cooling setup maintain the junction temperature of the IGBTs below the maximum permissible value across all studied operating conditions. The liquid-cooled cold plate, exhibiting the lowest thermal resistance, is particularly suitable for power dissipation rates exceeding 1200 W, ensuring a substantial safety margin for junction temperature. The results underscore that the performance of air-cooled heat sinks is not heavily influenced by air flow direction but predominantly hinges on the air flow rate.


Volume 7, Issue 1
January 2024
Pages 9-19
  • Receive Date: 11 November 2023
  • Revise Date: 28 December 2023
  • Accept Date: 01 March 2024