Innovation consortium for sustanable performance in electronics

The effect of exposed climatic conditions on the functioning electronic device is a serious threat today due to a number of factors among which a key aspect is that the device enclosures are not strictly designed today to minimize the effect of the exterior climate (especially humidity and gases) on the interior parts of the device. Temperature variation is unavoidable to a great extent, while the uncontrolled humidity synergistically with temperature variation is more problematic.

Increased robustness of the device’s internal parts such as PCBA alone will not reduce the risk as sometime the external variation of temperature or humidity could cause harsh conditions such as full condensation on the parts inside, which is intolerable for any parts.

The overall device enclosure design and its interior arrangements of parts play a huge role in determining the local microclimate development adverse for PCBAs. Humidity flow and temperature variations across the interior dimensions of the enclosure varies based on geometrical aspects, thermal properties materials and contamination.

Uncontrolled ingress of humidity and corrosive gases can cause a number of failures modes on electronic devices due to the surface insulation sensitivity of the PCBAs, which is breached when water layer forms due to high humidity. Most moisture related failures are driven due to water layer formation on critical surfaces and interfaces together with entry of hygroscopic contamination from the atmosphere, which reduces the critical relative humidity/surface energy levels for water layer formation. Therefore a good enclosure design and additional high efficiency, low energy spending humidity control mechanisms (e.g. controlled heating during off time) are an integral aspect of damage control to avoid entry of hydroscopic contamination and humidity causing catastrophic or intermittent failures.

The innovation consortium IN SPE will develop new solutions to the design of cabinets for electronics, a design that today is developed on the basis of the experience of the manufacturers and not on the basis of scientific insight. Among other things, the researchers will develop optimized modelling tools fully supported by the empirical data to simulate how specific changes of the design will influence the ability to control humidity. IN SPE will also develop new energy saving solutions to keep the internal local humidity at an acceptable level. The IN SPE project aims to develop an industrial level methodology for “Enclosure design for electronic devices” for improving its climatic reliability.

Research partners:

CELCORR, Materials and Surface Engineering, DTU-Mechanical Engineering, Denmark

Section of Manufacturing Engineering, DTU-Mechanical Engineering, Denmark

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan State University, USA

GTS Institutes:

DELTA, Denmark

IPU, Denmark

Industrial Partners:

Danfoss A/S, Denmark

Grundfos A/S, Denmark

Vestas Windsystems A/S, Denmark

Eltek, Noway

PhD Projects under this programme:

1. Water film formation on PCBA surface under humidity: Investigation of electrochemical and electrical aspects leading to corrosion failures, PhD Student: Kamila Piotrowska

2.  Humidity control inside electronic enclosures: Developing design principles based on empirical understanding, PhD Student: Salil Joshy

3. TBA

This project is funded by Danish Agency for Science, Technology, and Innovation, Ministry of Science, Innovation, and higher education.

More information about In SPE project can be found on homepage: