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Decreasing the ambient

  1. Sep 6, 2010 #1
    This is a short conceptual question.

    If I place a heat sink in a sealed container, and than raise the ambient temperature in the container, will the heat sink absorb the heat with somewhere close to the same efficiency as it would being used in the traditional application (dispersing it's heat into the ambient)?
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2010 #2
    Perhaps initially, but very quickly, the heat sink will have the same temperature as the ambient, and there won't be any effective absorption anymore.

    In the traditional application, this situation is never attained, because the heat sink can always radiate to the ambient, which itself transfers heat to the practically infinite atmosphere (the true "heat sink").
  4. Sep 6, 2010 #3
    But the heat sink is going to absorb the excess heat in the ambient? And so if I have a way to transfer the heat sink's heat out of the system externally I could effectively reverse the roles of the air and the heat sink in their traditional applications?

    Thanks for answering!
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2010
  5. Sep 6, 2010 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, a heat sink works basically the same whether absorbing or dissipating heat.
  6. Sep 6, 2010 #5
    Sure, heat naturally goes from hot to cold if transfer is possible (whether by conduction, convection or radiation), and generally, the more surface the better. The way you choose to transfer the heat from the heat sink out of the system is practically a leak in your otherwise sealed container.

    There are many designs to heat sinks though, and I can't confirm which shape is better for your particular system. The optimal heatsink (shape for instance) for emitting in the atmosphere isn't necessarily the best for your inverted application.
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