A Freezable Heat Exchanger for Space Suit Radiator Systems 2008-01-2111
During an ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA), both the heat generated by the astronaut's metabolism and that produced by the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) must be rejected to space. The heat sources include the heat of adsorption of metabolic CO2, the heat of condensation of water, the heat removed from the body by the liquid cooling garment, the load from the electrical components and incident radiation. Although the sublimator hardware to reject this load weighs only 1.58 kg (3.48 lbm), an additional 3.6 kg (8 lbm) of water are loaded into the unit, most of which is sublimated and lost to space, thus becoming the single largest expendable during an eight-hour EVA. Using a radiator to reject heat from the astronaut during an EVA can reduce the amount of expendable water consumed in the sublimator.
Radiators have no moving parts and are thus simple and highly reliable. However, past freezable radiators have been too heavy. The weight can be greatly reduced by placing a small and freeze tolerant heat exchanger between the astronaut and radiator, instead of making the very large radiator freeze tolerant. Therefore, the key technological innovation to improve space suit radiator performance was the development of a lightweight and freezable heat exchanger that accommodates the variable heat load generated by the astronaut. Herein, we present the heat transfer performance of a newly designed heat exchanger that endured several freeze / thaw cycles without any apparent damage. The heat exchanger was also able to continuously turn down or turn up the heat rejection to follow the variable load.