Browse Publications Technical Papers 2000-01-2406

Comparison of Thermal Performance Characteristics of Ammonia and Propylene Loop Heat Pipes 2000-01-2406

In this paper, experimental work performed on a breadboard Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) is presented. The test article was built by DCI for the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) instrument on the ICESat spacecraft. The thermal system requirements of GLAS have shown that ammonia cannot be used as the working fluid in this LHP because GLAS radiators could cool to well below the freezing point of ammonia. As a result, propylene was proposed as an alternative LHP working fluid since it has a lower freezing point than ammonia. Both working fluids were tested in the same LHP following a similar test plan in ambient conditions. The thermal performance characteristics of ammonia and propylene LHP's were then compared. In general, the propylene LHP required slightly less startup superheat and less control heater power than the ammonia LHP. The thermal conductance values for the propylene LHP were also lower than the ammonia LHP. Later, the propylene LHP was tested in a thermal vacuum chamber. These tests demonstrated that propylene could meet the GLAS thermal design requirements. Design guidelines were proposed for the next flight-like Development Model (DM) LHP for thermal control of the GLAS instrument.


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