Operating Characteristics of Loop Heat Pipes 1999-01-2007
The loop heat pipe (LHP) was invented in Russia in the early 1980’s. It is a two-phase heat transfer device that utilizes the evaporation and condensation of a working fluid to transfer heat, and the capillary forces developed in fine porous wicks to circulate the fluid. The LHP is known for its high pumping capability and robust operation because it uses fine-pored metal wicks and the integral evaporator/hydro-accumulator design. It has gained rapid acceptance in recent years as a thermal control device in space applications. This paper presents an overview of the LHP operation. The physical processes and the thermal-hydraulic behaviors of the LHP are first described. Operating characteristics as functions of various parameters including the heat load, sink temperature, ambient temperature, and elevation are presented. Peculiar behaviors in LHP operation such as temperature hysteresis and temperature overshoot during start-up are explained. Issues related to multiple-evaporator LHP’s are also addressed.