Geometric complexities and multi-physical phenomena add difficulties for predicting the thermal field and hence thermal management of an electric motor. A numerical design model that combined electromagnetic and thermal-fluid analysis was proposed for disclosing the detailed temperature distributions of each component in an electric motor. The thermal fluid analysis implemented ANSYS-Fluent code to unravel the thermal field of the interior permanent magnet synchronous electric motor fitted with a smooth or novel spirally twisted channel in the cooling water jacket of a stator with and without shaft cooling. In accordance with the thermal powers converted from the various electromagnetic losses of the electric motor, the complex heat conduction model with realistic thermal boundary conditions was formulated. Initially, the turbulent flow structures and channel averaged Nusselt numbers of the spiral channels without and with the sectional twist were comparatively examined for acquiring the convective thermal boundary conditions in the water jacket. With the high thermal conductivity of the aluminum water jacket, the heat-transfer improvements from the smooth-spiral-channel conditions by using the twisted spiral channel were effective for reducing the average temperatures by about 10% but less effective for altering the characteristic thermal field in the water jacket. At 1290 < Dn < 6455 or 5000 < Re < 25,000 for the spiral channel flows, the channel average Nusselt numbers ratios between the smooth and twisted spiral channels were elevated to 1.18–1.09 but decreased with the increase of Dn or Re. A set of heat-transfer correlations for estimating the Nusselt numbers of Taylor flow in the rotor-to-stator air gap was newly devised from the data available in the literature. While the cooling effectiveness of the water jacket and shaft was boosted by the sectional twists along the spiral channel of the water jacket, the presence of Taylor flow in the annual air gap prohibited the effective rotor-to-stator heat transmission, leading to hot spots in the rotor. By way of airflow cooling through the rotating hollow shaft, the high temperatures in the rotor were considerably moderated. As the development of Taylor flow between the rotor and stator was inevitable, the development of active or passive rotor cooling schemes was necessary for extending the power density of an electric motor. Unlike the previous thermal circuit or lumped-parameter thermal model that predicted the overall temperatures of motor components, the present coupled electromagnetic and thermal-fluid model can reveal the detailed temperature distributions in an electric motor to probe the local hot spots of each component in order to avoid overheating at the early design stage.
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