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Thermal performance of embedded heat pipe in high power density LED

streetlight module

Conference Paper · April 2014

DOI: 10.1109/EuroSimE.2014.6813883


3 159

6 authors, including:

Hongyu Tang Stanley Leung

Delft University of Technology The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


Cadmus A. Yuan G.Q. Zhang

Delft University of Technology Delft University of Technology


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Thermal Performance of Embedded Heat Pipe in High Power Density LED Streetlight
Hongyu Tang*1, Jia Zhao1, Bo Li2, Stanley Y Y Leung1, Cadmus C A Yuan2, 3 and G Q Zhang4
State Key Laboratory of Solid-State Lighting, Changzhou, Jiangsu, 213161, China
State Key Laboratory of Solid-State Lighting, Haidian, Beijing, 100086, China
Research and Development Center for Semiconductor Lighting, Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of
Sciences, Haidian, Beijing, 100086, China
Delft Institute of Microsystems and Nanoelectronics (DIMES), Delft University of Technology, Delft, the

a passive design using metal fin heat sinks (Figure 2). A

more advanced design with heat pipe (HP) integrated into
The excellence of energy efficiency and reliability of
the metal fin heat sink were proposed [1–6]. Among the
LED attract the application of outdoor area lighting.
passive cooling technologies, metal fin heat sink structure
The trends toward increase of power density while
is simple and having the highest reliability. The heat
minimizing the structure, made the heat dissipation design
dissipation is relied on the temperature difference
challenging. The thermal performance of a novel
between the hot surface and the ambient. For the high
streetlight module with embedded heat pipe is
power LEDs array, the metal fin heat sink with natural
investigated in this study. The thermal performance of
convection may not be capable to bear the heating load
the new module is compared with a common module with
especially under high ambient temperature. Heat
only metal fins design. The thermal capabilities,
dissipation system using heat pipe assemblies (including
including temperature uniformity and thermal resistance
heat pipe, vapor chamber, and thermal tower, etc.) are
of heat pipe under different heat loads have been
attracting more attention. Heat pipe comprises of a
investigated experimentally and analyzed using finite
sealed tube with the inside wall having a porous wick
element modeling. The comparison of the thermal
structure, and partially filled working fluid. The heat
properties is presented, and the implication on design
dissipation mechanism is based on the release of latent
capability and reliability is discussed.
heat of vaporization and condensation during the phase
1. Introduction change of the working fluid. Therefore, allowing the high
Light emitting diode (LED) as a solid state heat transfer at low temperature differences.
semiconductor device, which directly converts electrical In this paper, the thermal performance of HP with
energy into light. The energy efficiency of LED is much parallel condensers used for LED streetlight module is
improved compared to high pressure sodium or metal investigated. The thermal performance of an aluminum
halide technologies that was commonly used by based heat sink and a heat sink in the form of HP with
conventional streetlight. The advantages of low energy parallel condensers were compared. The temperature
consumption and long life span made LED light source as profile under different heating load were measured
a mainstream for street lighting. Even though LED has a experimentally. The thermal resistance of the different
fairly satisfactory progress in the photoelectric conversion designs was evaluated using finite element analysis. The
efficiency, typically more than 80% of the input power thermal performance is compared and the selection
still wasted as heat [1, 2]. Thermal management design criteria is discussed.
is important despite the luminous efficacies of LEDs are
much improved recently. Like other electronic devices,
a proper thermal management solution is critical to the
operation and the reliability of a LED illumination
application. A commercialized Chip-on-Board (COB)
LED light source (Figure 1) used for streetlight
application can be up to above 90W of nominal input
power. If there is no proper thermal design, the life span
of the light source could be reduced dramatically or even
failure catastrophically.
Common LED streetlight is constructed by a
modulated design. The LED light sources are mounted
on a module structure. The modules are then mounted
into the streetlight fixture. The module structure has Figure 1. A commercialized 90W COB LED light source
dual function. It acted as the mechanical support, as (Copyright Cree, Inc).
well as a heat sink for thermal dissipation. The heat
dissipation design of a LED streetlight module usually is

978-1-4799-4790-4/14/$31.00 ©2014 IEEE —1/6—

2014 15th International Conference on Thermal, Mechanical and Multi-Physics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems, EuroSimE 2014
Figure 3. A LED streetlight module with 3 heat pipes
embedded into the metal fin heat sink.

Figure 2. A common LED streetlight module with metal

fin heat sink.

2. Design of LED streetlight module with heat pipe

The streetlight module used for this study is designed
as a heat sink like structure embedded with a set of 3 heat
pipes. The appearance of the module is shown in Figure
3. The light source was mounted on to a carrying
platform that is positioned at the center of the module.
The metal fins structure is directly connected to the
opposite edges of the platform. The symmetric design is
intended to comply with special required arrangement.
The heat pipes are welded to the light source carrying
platform and the metal fins of the heat sink. The design Figure 4. Air flow diagram of LED streetlight module
is aimed to dissipate the heat through the heat sink and the with parallel condenser heat pipe.
heat pipes simultaneously. Portion of heat generated
from the light source is transferred by conduction to the The convective heat transfer from the metal fins to the
metal fins and dissipated to the ambient through natural ambient is through natural convection. The air flow path
convection. And portion of heat is dissipated through through the module from bottom to top is illustrated in
providing latent heat energy to the working fluid inside Figure 4. The pitch of the fins has been analyzed for
the heat pipe for phase change. Since the metal fins can optimum performance [8]. In consideration of ease of
have a lower temperature than the light source carrying manufacturing, fins in planner structure were adopted.
platform, it could also facilitate the re-condensation. 3. Experimental
The light source carrying platform in the form of a The temperature distribution of the streetlight module
rectangular plate with a dimension of 72 mm (L)×68 with heat pipe was measured under different input power.
mm(W)×10 mm (H). The inner diameter of the heat A typical module without heat pipe was also examined for
pipe is 8 mm. The thickness of the wick layer is 0.6 mm. comparison. The measurement was performed under
The metal fin structure is made of aluminum and having steady state condition. Constant current was applied to
dimension of 89 mm×62 mm×68 mm. The total the light source during the experiments. The module
weight of the module is about 600 g. The heat pipe is was stabilized for more than 50 minutes to ensure the
targeted to operate at above 40 oC with water as working operation was in steady state before the data recording.
fluid. The casing and the wick of the heat pipe are made The overall temperature distribution was recorded by
of copper. The working fluid will evaporate in the wick taking the thermal image using an infra-red (IR) camera
structure inside the heated location. The steam is (Fluke Ti55FT). In addition, thermal couples were
traveled spontaneously to the cool side due to the pressure mounted on the position at the solder point, the metal fin
difference. The steam is condensed into water. The near center, and the metal fin near the edge for key
liquid water is driven by capillary force of the wick and temperature measurement. The actual mounting
flow back to heated location for compensation. The positions were shown in Figure 5. The module was
process is continued in order to sustain the circulation of tested under room temperature of about 25 oC.
working fluid under phase change.

2014 15th International Conference on Thermal, Mechanical and Multi-Physics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems, EuroSimE 2014
temperature distribution is more uniform for the module
with the heat pipe. It is implied that the heat transfer
Solder Fin 1 Fin 2
rate is enhanced by the heat pipes. There is no hotspot
observed near the joint positions between the metal fins
and the heat pipes indicated the welding does not created
a substantial thermal resistance. It is also indicated that
the embedding of the heat pipes does not have significant
effect on the air flow path for natural convection.

Fin 1 Fin 2

Figure 5. The thermal couple mounting positions on the

LED streetlight module with heat sink with HP (upper Figure 6. Temperature distribution of LED streetlight
photo) and heat sink without HP (lower photo). module by IR camera under 40W input power. Module
with HP (left) and module without HP (right)
4. Results
The measured temperatures using thermal couples at 5. Thermal performance analysis
different locations are listed in Table 1. The highest Modeling
temperature was located near the light source, with 70.9 The thermal performance of the modules with and
C for the module with heat pipe, and 92.2 oC for the without the heat pipes was analyzed by finite element
module without heat pipe measured with 80W power model (ANSYS). The steady state temperature
input. The differences of the highest temperature point distribution of the modules can be numerically analysis
of the 2 modules is 21.3 oC, which is significant. The by solving the differential function in equation [7],
thermal resistance Rth of the modules are determined by   T    T    T  

Tsolder  T fin 2  kx    ky    kz    q (2)

Rth  (1) x  x  y  y  z  z 
Pth for k are thermal conductivities of materials in x, y, z
with Pth is the thermal input power. The Pth is assumed direction, T is temperature, and q is the power. The built
to be 80% of the input power. The thermal resistance of models are shown in Figure 7. Since the structure of the
the module with heat pipes is up to 0.28 oC/W, and the modules is in symmetry, the analysis of LED streetlight
thermal resistance of the module without heat pipe is up module with HP was based on a quarter model. The
to 0.61 oC/W. The heat pipes effectively reduced the internal of the heat pipe was simplified to be a highly
thermal resistance by more than 50%. Furthermore, the thermal conductive layer [7]. The thermal conductivity
variation of the thermal resistance of the module with heat of the materials is listed in Table 2 [5, 6]. The meshing of
pipes is small under different T solder. It demonstrated that the model is using Brick 8 node element. The meshed
the heat pipe can be effectively operating at wide range of model is shown in Figure 8. The thermal loading was
temperature. applied as power density from the LED light source. The
boundary condition was assumed that the air flow is under
Table 1. Tested temperatures (°C) in the LED streetlight natural convection with the convective heat transfer
module coefficients on different surface are listed in Table 3.
The models were defined to be under ambient temperature
Heat sink with HP Heat sink without HP
of 25 oC.
Current(A) 2 1.5 1.1 2 1.5 1.1
Power(W) 80 60 40 80 60 40 Table 2. Thermal conductivity of different materials
Tsolder(°C) 70.9 58.6 `49.3 92.2 73.0 58.4 defined for the finite element analysis.
TFin1(°C) 63.8 53.6 45.7 73.5 56.4 48.1
TFin2(°C) 56.0 47.0 40.4 57.2 43.8 40.0 Parts Material
TAir(°C) 23.4 23.0 22.9 25.0 24.5 24.3
LED Die GaN 20
0.23 0.24 0.28 0.55 0.61 0.58 LED package EMC 3
Heats spreader Copper 387.6
The thermal images of the modules operating under Heatpipe wall See [8] 100
40W input power is shown in Figure 6. It can be Heatpipe see [8] 6000
observed that the thermal gradient of the module without
Fin Aluminium 202.4
heat pipe is higher than the module with heat pipes. The

2014 15th International Conference on Thermal, Mechanical and Multi-Physics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems, EuroSimE 2014
Table 3. The convective heat transfer coefficient of each Table 4. Simulated temperatures (°C) in the LED
heat sink streetlight module

h Module without
Type Region Position Module with HP
W/(m2·°C) HP
Module without Fin center 10 FEM Measured FEM Measured
heat pipe Fin – two sides 15 Solder point 48.1 49.3 58.6 58.4
Fin - center 3 HP-middle 47.2 45.6 - -
Module with heat
pipe HP-end 41.0 40.5 - -
Fin – two sides 8
Fin1 41.8 45.7 50.1 48.1
Fin2 39.2 40.4 41.0 40.0

(a) (b)

Figure 7. 3D model of LED streetlight module without Figure 9. Simulated temperature distribution of LED
heat pipe (left) and with heat pipes (right). streetlight module without heat pipe.


Figure 8. Meshing of the 3D model of LED streetlight
module without heat pipe (left) and with heat pipes (right).

Figure 10. Simulated temperature distribution of LED

Benchmarking streetlight module with heat pipe.
Simulation of the temperature distribution of the
module under 40W of input power was performed. The Discussion
overall temperature distribution of the module without The thermal performance of the module with and
heat pipe is shown in Figure 9, and the module with heat without the heat pipe is compared using finite element
pipes is shown in Figure 10. The temperatures at the modeling. The reliability of a streetlight modules is
key positions are listed in Table 4 and compared with the critically dependent on the junction temperature of the
experimental result. The simulation results are in good LED dies. Since the junction temperature cannot be
match with the measurements. The small discrepancies directly measure, it is a common practice to take the
are within the measurement tolerance. solder point temperature (Tsolder), which is close to the
LED die, as estimation. The plot of Tsolder as a function
of power input of the modules design is shown in Figure
11. The result shows that the module installed with heat

2014 15th International Conference on Thermal, Mechanical and Multi-Physics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems, EuroSimE 2014
pipes having the lowest Tsolder than the module without
heat pipe. The Tsolder difference is up to over 20 oC at
the input power of 70W. In order to improve the thermal
performance, heat sink made of high thermal conductivity
material is usually considered. A module that with the
structure identical to the one without heat pipe but made
of copper was simulated as a comparison. Although the
thermal performance can be improved by using copper
module, the module with heat pipe still has lowest Tsolder.
With 80W of input power, the Tsolder difference between
the two is about 12 oC. The module with heat pipes is
capable to handle higher energy density light source
compared to module without heat pipe.

Figure 12. L70 lifetime of a commercial LED light source

as function of junction temperature [9] (Copyright Cree,

5. Conclusions
The thermal performance of streetlight modules with
and without heat pipe was investigated. The
improvement of the heat dissipation with the heat pipe is
significant. The thermal resistance of the module with
the heat pipes is reduced by over 50% compared with the
module without heat pipe. Temperature distribution is
more uniform with the heat pipe module. The heat
dissipation capability of different module design was
analyzed using finite element model. The module with
heat pipe is capable for light source of about 90W. The
Figure 11. The solder point temperature of LED heat dissipation capability of the heat pipe module is even
streetlight module under different input power.  is the better than a module made of copper. The solder joint
measurement result of module with heat pipe;  is the temperature can be more than 20 oC lower under 70W of
measurement result of module without heat pipe. power input with the heat pipe module compared to the
module without heat pipe. The lowering of the
The lumen maintenance of the streetlight module is temperature is expected to improve the lumen
dependent on the junction temperature of the LED die. maintenance and extend the useful life of the streetlight
A L70 lifetime of a commercial LED light source was module by over 30%. The proposed streetlight module
taken as an example (Figure 12). A decrease of 20 oC with heat pipe is a promising solution for the demanding
from 80 oC to 60 oC, the product life is increased from of the high power LED light source.
105000 hours to 140000 hours (T air=45 oC). It is
corresponding to 8 years extension of useful life. While
the cost of the module with heat pipes is expected to be
increase, the added cost could be amortized through the This work is supported by the Sino-German cooperation
extended life time and achieve a competitive total cost of project, LED beyond conventional lighting: Off grid
ownership. application. Authors would like to thank Huaiyu Ye and
Bo Sun from Delft University of Technology for the
technical advises. The first author would also like to
thanks to Lei Zhong for the assistance on thermal

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loop-heat-pipe heat sink with parallel condensers for
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2014 15th International Conference on Thermal, Mechanical and Multi-Physics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems, EuroSimE 2014
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2014 15th International Conference on Thermal, Mechanical and Multi-Physics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems, EuroSimE 2014

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