Piezoelectric fan cooling: A novel high reliability electric machine thermal management solution

Gareth M. Gilson, Stephen J. Pickering, David B. Hann, Chris Gerada

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Electric machine thermal management is critical for the correct operation of high power density electrical machines. This is, however, challenging to achieve in safety-critical applications where the reliability of the cooling system needs to be significantly higher than conventional solutions. Piezoelectric fans are presented here as a novel fault-tolerant forced cooling convective system for electric machines. Particle image velocimetry techniques in conjunction with infrared thermal measurements were implemented to map and quantify the flow fields generated by such a cooling arrangement as well as to determine the effective cooling enhancement. This paper also outlines the main design variables for such a system and highlights the main considerations to be accounted for to optimize the cooling potential. For the specific machine presented in this paper, the optimal fin/fan geometry resulted in mean flows in excess of 2.41 m/s and turbulence values in excess of 2.38 m/s, which resulted in an average convective heat transfer coefficient enhancement of 364.8% on the fin base and a further enhancement of 53.6% on each of the fin side walls. This, in turn, led to a 61.8% reduction in the electric machine heat sink cooling mass.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6329428
Pages (from-to)4841-4851
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Fault-tolerant machines
  • Fluid flow visualization/measurement
  • Heat transfer enhancement
  • Machine cooling
  • Piezoelectric fans
  • Thermal management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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