Phase Change Material Heat Exchanger Life Test 2009-01-2589
Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) poses unique thermal challenges for the orbiting space craft, particularly regarding the performance of the radiators. The IR environment of the space craft varies drastically from the light side to the dark side of the moon. The result is a situation where a radiator sized for the maximal heat load in the most adverse situation is subject to freezing on the dark side of the orbit. One solution to this problem is to implement Phase Change Material (PCM) Heat Exchangers.
PCM Heat Exchangers act as a “thermal capacitor,” storing thermal energy when there is too much being produced by the space craft to reject to space, and then feeding that energy back into the thermal loop when conditions are more favorable. Because they do not use an expendable resource, such as the feed water used by sublimators and evaporators, PCM Heat Exchangers are ideal for long duration LLO missions.
In order to validate the performance of PCM Heat Exchangers, a life test is being conducted on four n-Pentadecane, carbon filament heat exchangers. Fluid loop performance, repeatability, and measurement of performance degradation over 2500 melt-freeze cycles will be performed.