Thermal & Aerothermal

Multidisciplinary Expertise in Thermal and Structural Calculations

When a system becomes too hot or cold or is continuously cycled through a large temperature range during its lifetime, mechanical problems such as structural distortion, structural failure, and equipment failure often will occur.

Because of ATA’s technical heritage in structural engineering, we also have extensive experience in thermal analysis of aerospace and electronic systems and applying the resulting thermal loads to our structural analysis models. In addition, ATA can perform multidisciplinary thermal/structural calculations.


Thermal Analysis Experience

ATA has extensive experience in aerospace systems, including defining the solar radiation environment and orbital mechanics for satellites and other orbiting systems, payload integration, prelaunch, ascent and reentry analysis, and using specialty aerospace materials including ablatives. For ground-based systems, we typically analyze electronic systems with forced or natural convection cooling. We use our analysis tools to drive the design of thermal management systems for products ranging from high-powered lasers to compact battery packs.

ATA provides thermal and coupled fluid-thermal analysis and design support at a variety of different levels of fidelity depending upon the application. This support includes the following:

  • Chip-level thermal analysis
  • Board-level thermal analysis
  • Component heat management
  • System-level thermal analysis

Our primary analysis tools are Thermal Desktop, NX Thermal, the Femap Advanced Thermal Solver, Star-CCM+, and the TMG™ and ESC™ modules of Siemens I-deas® NX Series, which have capabilities to simulate conduction, convection, radiation, and fully coupled conjugate heat transfer problems.

In addition to our expertise using commercial tools to perform thermal modeling and analysis, ATA has extensive experience developing tools, scripts, and software to go beyond standard commercial capabilities. ATA has developed commercial software to enable mapping of spatially varying data like temperature, pressure, and heat flux across models purpose-built for computational fluid dynamics (CFD), vibroacoustics, thermal, or structural analysis. ATA frequently develops user subroutines to enable modeling of complex heating such as chemical reactions or to simulate active thermal control systems. ATA also leverages application programming interface (API) language in software such as Femap and Thermal Desktop to create tools that automate modeling, analysis, and data processing activities for large models and analysis datasets. These API tools that significantly improve the productivity of our engineers are provided to our customers as a project deliverable.


Computational Thermal Analysis Process

If a thermal analysis problem is relatively simple, a one-dimensional calculation may be sufficient. More complicated examples require computational thermal analysis methods which generally follow a common process, as outlined below:

  1. Problem definition
  2. Hand calculations
  3. Geometry cleanup and/or simplification
  4. Creation of thermal computational network (simulation model)
  5. Thermal simulation
  6. Postprocessing of simulation results
  7. Visualization of temperature or other results
  8. Reporting and assessment of key metrics
  9. Recommendation and implementation of design changes
  10. Interfacing or mapping temperature results to other analysis tools
  11. Test planning and support
  12. Data processing, posttest analysis, and model correlation




Thermal Test Support

ATA has experience supporting thermal testing in both ambient and vacuum conditions, including developing thermal test requirements, performing pretest and posttest analysis support, and providing on-site test support. ATA has capabilities for measuring temperature and airflow and can assist with the selection of air movers and confirmation of proper selection with testing.

Depending on your needs, ATA’s experienced thermal analysts can perform the entire computational thermal analysis process or focus on specific steps. ATA also can provide independent thermal model review services and thermal test support.


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