The present study is focused on the experimental characterization of two-phase heat transfer performance and pressure drops within an ultra-compact heat exchanger (UCHE) suitable for electronics cooling applications. In this specific work, the UCHE prototype is anticipated to be a critical component for realizing a new passive two-phase cooling technology for high-power server racks, as it is more compact and lighter weight than conventional heat exchangers. This technology makes use of a novel combination of thermosyphon loops, at the server-level and rack-level, to passively cool an entire rack. In the proposed two-phase cooling technology, a smaller form factor UCHE is used to transfer heat from the server-level thermosyphon cooling loop to the rack-level thermosyphon cooling loop, while a larger form factor UCHE is used to reject the total heat from the server rack into the facility-level cooling loop. The UCHE is composed of a double-side-copper finned plate enclosed in a stainless steel enclosure. The geometry of the fins and channels on both sides are optimized to enhance the heat transfer performance and flow stability, while minimizing the pressure drops. These features make the UCHE the ideal component for thermosyphon cooling systems, where low pressure drops are required to achieve high passive flow circulation rates and thus achieve high critical heat flux values. The UCHE’s thermal-hydraulic performance is first evaluated in a pump-driven system at the Laboratory of Heat and Mass Transfer (LTCM-EPFL), where experiments include many configurations and operating conditions. Then, the UCHE is installed and tested as the condenser of a thermosyphon loop that rejects heat to a pumped refrigerant system at Nokia Bell Labs, in which both sides operate with refrigerants in phase change (condensation-to-boiling). Experimental results demonstrate high thermal performance with a maximum heat dissipation density of 5455 (kW/m3/K), which is significantly larger than conventional air-cooled heat exchangers and liquid-cooled small pressing depth brazed plate heat exchangers. Finally, a thermal performance analysis is presented that provides guidelines in terms of heat density dissipations at the server- and rack-level when using passive two-phase cooling.

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