Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Research Sponsor

Jiang Zhe


High temperatures in lower-limb prosthetics can lead to poor user skin conditions and mechanical slippage between the user’s limb and the prosthetic. This report presents an air-cooling device for a lower-limb prosthesis. This device’s purpose is to maintain a constant skin-prosthesis interface temperature. A compact heat sink and small fan were used to transfer the bio-heat to the ambient surroundings. By changing the power of the fan, the thermal resistance of the whole system can be adjusted to match various thermal loads and environmental temperatures. Heat pads were used to mimic the heat generation of a residual limb, and cooling performance was assessed through a relationship between the thermal resistance of the heat sink and the fan power. Experiments shows that the cooling capacity of the prototype device ranges from 0W to 6.7W, at an ambient temperature of 23°C. The system response time is less than three minutes. Under an automatic control mode, the controlled temperature error is less than ±0.3°C by setting a desired skin temperature of 31.2°C. For further development towards a commercial product, material considerations were also made. Pyrolytic graphite was found to be an optimal material for performance, environmental and economic reasons. Slip casting would be optimal for short manufacturing runs and die pressing and sintering would be optimal for longer manufacturing runs.