Improving LED Lighting Heat Dissipation

CeramTec, an international supplier of advanced ceramics, wanted to explore the application of the material in the LED lighting market. Incandescent light sources work with temperatures up to 2,500°C whereas LEDs are much cooler but still produce heat up to 100°C. The LED can only use a small temperature gap between 100°C of the hot spot and 25°C ambient temperature; offering just 75 Kelvin between the two. An investigation into the current solutions for LED heat management was needed before exploring the potential benefits of using ceramics to improve the product's thermal performance.

CeramTec selected Altair ProductDesign to analyze the existing solutions and assist in the design of a new ceramic concept. The LED itself could not be altered being a largely standard part but the design of the heatsink which dissipates the heat to the surrounding area could be explored. To predict thermal behavior of various designs, a process based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) was developed.

Using Altair’s own HyperWorks simulation suite, an optimized ceramic heatsink was developed which took manufacturing and cost requirements into account. The optimized geometry allows operation of a 4W LED at a maximum temperature below 60°C which was validated against physical tests. The identical geometry in the more traditional aluminum with a PCB mounted LED showed significantly higher temperatures and increased stress on the LED than the ceramic alternative.

The new ceramic heatsink CeramCool® proved an effective combination of circuit board and heatsink for the reliable cooling of thermally sensitive components. Using ceramics as heatsinks, circuit carriers and other components of the product allowed CeramTec to overcome traditional heat patterns and to implement an new innovative concept in LED design.

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