Active Thermal Control System Optimization
Navy SBIR 2015.2 - Topic N152-115
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: May 26, 2015 - Closes: June 24, 2015

N152-115    TITLE:  Active Thermal Control System Optimization

TECHNOLOGY AREAS:  Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM:  PEO IWS 2 – Air and Missile Defense Radar

OBJECTIVE:  Develop software tools to design and optimize the control architecture of multiple cold plate, high heat-flux thermal systems.

DESCRIPTION:  Thermal Management is a critical requirement for future warships with electronic propulsion, weapon, and sensor systems. Innovative thermal architectures are needed to cool nextgeneration, high-energy density electronics which are expected to exhibit highly transient loads during pulsed operation. Two-phase cooling systems, such as vapor compression cycles, pumped cooling loops, and hybrid systems, are of particular interest for electronics cooling applications due to the large heat transfer coefficients from boiling flow, as well as their capability to maintain isothermal conditions as ambient temperature varies. In the presence of large thermal transients, active control may be required to avoid temperature variations, thermal lag, flow instabilities and critical heat-flux, which do not occur in state-of-the-art systems based on single-phase convective cooling. While control strategies for airconditioning and refrigeration systems are well developed, the use of phase change cycles for electronics cooling is relatively new. In order for the thermal control system to accommodate transients, the component response times need to be understood and the control system optimized to ensure stable operation of coupled components while avoiding dry-out. The objective of this topic is to develop a software toolset with a graphical user interface to model various component configurations and control approaches for an electronics thermal control system. This toolset will allow for modeling of component interactions under dynamic thermal loads and evaluation of control methodologies for optimizing thermal performance, while minimizing system size and weight. Such components include, but are not limited to, variable speed compressors, pumps, electronic expansion devices, accumulators, charge compensators, liquid receivers, cold plates, condensers, and other components used in a two-phase thermal control system. The toolset will need to be able to monitor temperature, pressure, and flow, and simulate active control of components for modification of operation based on control algorithms and user inputs. 

PHASE I:  Develop component-level models (using a subset of components listed above) and formulate system-level concepts to characterize the control architecture for multiple-cold-plate, active thermal control systems. Validate model performance through static and transient laboratory experiments.

PHASE II:  Based upon Phase I results, develop full-scale system-level software tools and control system modeling capability to optimize thermal response of advanced multi-cold plate architectures. Characterize operation, including transient behavior, of a representative thermal control system. Operationally test control system with relevant and/or simulating hardware. Deliver a standalone software toolset with graphical user interface.

PHASE III:  Based upon Phase II effort, finalize software toolset and graphical user interface. Provide transition and commercialization plans using the knowledge gained during Phases I and II. Provide support during developmental and operational testing on full-scale radar, weapon, and other systems.


1.                T. W. Webb, T. M. Kiehne, and S. T. Haag, “System-level thermal management of pulsed loads on an all-electric ship,” IEEE Trans. Magn., vol. 43, pp. 469-473 (2007).

2.                J. Lee and I. Mudawar, “Low-temperature two-phase microchannel cooling for high-heat-flux thermal management of defense electronics,” IEEE Trans. Compon. Packag. Technol., vol 32, pp. 453-465 (2009).

3.                L. C. Schurt, C. J. Hermes, and A. T. Neto, “A model-driven multivariable controller for vapor compression refrigeration systems,” Int. J. of Refrigeration, vol. 32, pp. 1672- 1682, (2009).

4.                J. B. Marcinichen, J. A. Olivier, V. de Oliveira, and J. R. Thome, “A review of on-chip microevaporation: experimental evaluation of liquid pumping and vapor compression driven cooling systems and control,” App. Energy, vol. 92, pp. 147-161 (2012).

5.                K. McCarthy, P. McCarthy, N. Wu, A. Alleyne, et al., “Model Accuracy of Variable Fidelity Vapor Cycle System Simulations,” SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-2140 (2014).

6.                D. T. Pollock, Z. Yang, J. T. Wen, Y. Peles, and M. K. Jensen, “Model-based control of vapor compression cycles with transient imposed heat-flux,” Int. J. of Heat & Mass Trans., vol. 77, pp. 662-683 (2014).


KEYWORDS:  Thermal Management; Thermal Modeling; Active Control; Electronics Cooling; Optimization; Control System Modeling

TPOC:  Mark Spector



2nd TPOC:  Kevin Woods



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