The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has extended its contract with Thermacore to develop and commercialize active heat sinks that can be used with Micro-technologies for Air-Cooled Exchangers (MACE). The MACE program harnesses active micro-devices that greatly improve heat sink thermal performance and cool military electronic systems used for telecommunications, active sensing and imaging, radar, and other functions. Thermacore is partnering with the University of Minnesota, Lockheed Martin Company, and the Bergquist Torrington Company to develop the technology.

To qualify for the extension, Thermacore created a thermal demonstrator using a combination of existing and developmental heat transfer tools. The requirements included a power/heat input capability of one kilowatt, a volume of 4 × 4 × 4", a mass of 800 grams or less, thermal resistance less than 0.05°C/W, and electrical power consumption of 33W or less. The device’s heat flux was more than double the contract’s requirements, according to Thermacore, and the thermal resistance was 10 percent lower than what was originally proposed.

Thermacore’s work on the MACE project is closely related to another DARPA-commissioned project where the company contributed to the development of a cooling system for military and automotive electronics applications. Specifically, the advanced cooling system handles roughly 10 times the heat generated by conventional computer chips. The technology developed in the MACE program will allow that heat to move more efficiently into the airstream.