Two differently-produced open-cell aluminum foams were compared to a commercially available finned heat sink. Further, an aluminum plate and block were tested as a reference. All heat sinks have the same base plate dimensions of four by six inches. The first foam was made by investment casting of a polyurethane preform and has a porosity of 0.946 and a pore density of 10 pores per linear inch. The second foam is manufactured by casting over a solvable core and has a porosity of 0.85 and a pore density of 2.5 pores per linear inch. The effects of orientation and radiative heat transfer are experimentally investigated. The heat sinks are tested in a vertical and horizontal orientation. The effect of radiative heat transfer is investigated by comparing a painted/anodized heat sink with an untreated one. The heat flux through the heat sink for a certain temperature difference between the environment and the heat sink’s base plate is used as the performance indicator. For temperature differences larger than 30 °C, the finned heat sink outperforms the in-house-made aluminum foam heat sink on average by 17%. Furthermore, the in-house-made aluminum foam dissipates on average 12% less heat than the other aluminum foam for a temperature difference larger than 40 °C. By painting/anodizing the heat sinks, the heat transfer rate increased on average by 10% to 50%. Finally, the thermal performance of the horizontal in-house-made aluminum foam heat sink is up to 18% larger than the one of the vertical aluminum foam heat sink.
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