As this technological age surges on, so does the evolution of aircraft which over the past 10+ years has led to the development and optimization of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Commonly referred to as drones, these vehicles have caught the attention of many military and commercial users for various purposes. UAVs are now commonplace in a wide array of industries including, defense, agriculture, surveillance, real estate and consumer’s personal amusement.
Many of the most sophisticated drones have been developed for military applications due to their complex mission objectives. While specific goals and requirements may vary, in general, the technology has been developed to support short reconnaissance missions. For these types of missions, there are various user priorities to take into account. At a high level, the greatest challenges include meeting required functionality / critical performance, while improving reliability, and packaging into an ultra-lightweight system. All three priorities require reliable sub-systems that compliment each other. Regardless of function or mission, there is always one often over looked critical system maintaining operation: the thermal subsystem. The main goal of the thermal subsystem is to maintain operation of all electronics and other temperature sensitive components aboard via the absorption and dissipation of heat. As the industry has evolved, emerging applications have been “heating” up in terms of development.
The drone market is continuing to grow beyond just the Defense/Aerospace industry. A variety of applications for commercial, low altitude drones have arisen since pop culture has become aware of this technology from pushing the limits for video and picture capture activities for live sports broadcasting, to giving the ability to the everyday person to shoot epic landscapes. For those that prefer to not leave their place of residence, or simply need on-the-go assistance, drones have even been developed to deliver packages including toiletries or even food straight to one’s door! On the humanitarian front- long duration, high altitude UAV’s have been developed to bring broadband internet to areas that would normally not be accessible. This gives remote or underprivileged areas the help they need to deliver/receive information. Let’s not forget the ability of these aircraft to fly into places other man-propelled aircraft would not be able to; this provides the capability to deliver medical and survival supplies with ease to areas after a natural disaster. As you can see, the possibilities to utilize this evolving technology apply to every day life. (Photo Credit: http://uavactual.blogspot.com/2017/11/general-atomics-mq-9-reaper-3d-model.html)
As these new UAV projects are being funded and pushed forward, they are on the brink of goals for power density capability, efficiency, SWaP, duration and speed of flight more challenging than any of us ever expected. In achieving these goals so much more heat will be created, leading to a unique demand for high-performance thermal solutions. Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) is an advanced thermal solutions provider with expertise in single and two phase, both active and passive cooling. In most cases, customers desire passive, lightweight options to cool these electronics, batteries, controllers, etc. Technologies including heat pipe embedded assemblies, Phase Change Material (PCM) Heat Sinks fit the needs of this market. (Photo Credit: https://www.dji.com/phantom)
Feel free to contact ACT with any questions about UAVs, or any other thermal challenges you may have.