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Flow Network Modeling (FNM) is a generalized methodology for calculating system-wide distributions of flow rates and temperatures in a network representation of a cooling system. Practical flow and cooling systems can be considered as networks of flow paths through components such screens, filters, fans and pumps, ducts, bends, orifices, heat exchangers, cold plates and heat sinks, power supplies, and card arrays.
The characteristics of these components in terms of their flow and thermal resistances can be obtained from handbooks, vender specs, or in-house testing. Their use in the FNM approach provides a fast and accurate prediction of the flow distribution and the resulting thermal performance of the system. Unlike CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), FNM employs overall characteristics of components instead of attempting to calculate a detailed distribution of velocity and temperature within a component. As a result, FNM is very fast in terms of model definition, computation, and examination of results.
The flow network of an electronic cooling system is constructed by graphically representing the paths followed by the flow streams as they pass through different components of the system. There are no restrictions placed on the interconnections of the components in the network and the size of the network. Prediction of the system-wide flow and temperature distributions requires specification of the flow and heat transfer characteristics of the components used in the network model. The pressure loss in a component can be represented as a function of flow rate with the following equation:
Each component in the system is represented by a combination of links and nodes. Pressure and temperature are calculated at each node while the flow rates are associated with links. The flow characteristics of links constitute the momentum equations. Mass conservation is imposed at each node of the network. The forms of the discretized momentum and continuity equations are given below.