Today’s infotainment system is the brain of a modern vehicle as it provides its operating information and the information on its surroundings. It helps the driver navigate and operate the vehicle safely. This critical system requires extra thermal management attention because of the cooling needs complex electronics have in hot climates.
This problem was studied in the SAE paper (SAE 2015-01-0328) with the infotainment system exposed to solar heat up and AC cooldown. Some consider this to be the worst case thermal scenario the infotainment system can get exposed to. This is usually tested by placing the vehicle into a climatic wind tunnel with an array of solar lamps and hot, still air surrounding it. These extreme conditions cause high temperatures in the cabin and heat up the infotainment system. Temperatures can be so high that without cooling the electronics will not be able to operate. To fix this, the air conditioner is used to cool the electronics in addition to the cabin.
Simulations were performed using coupled fluid-thermal solver approach. The simulations included fully detailed vehicle structure, materials in the cabin, and detailed geometry and infotainment electronics heat generation. The lamp array in the climatic wind tunnel was modeled in SIMULIA PowerTHERM. The unique transient solver in SIMULIA PowerFLOW properly captured the buoyancy effects on temperature distribution in the cabin. Good agreement between the results of the simulation process and experiment in a controlled climatic facility has been obtained. Particularly, the soak stage shows excellent trend capturing ability. This is especially important as the ability to predict fluid temperatures in regions considered to house infotainment units can influence decisions on packaging very early in a car's design phase.
Infotainment instrument panel surface temperature (Left) and driver breath level air temperature (right)
WHITE PAPER: Thermal Management with Simulation Software
TECHNICAL PAPER: Automotive Cabin Infotainment system Thermal Management