Methods of Controlling the Loop Heat Pipe Operating Temperature
The operating temperature of a loop heat pipe (LHP) is governed by the saturation temperature of its compensation chamber (CC); the latter is in turn determined by the balance among the heat leak from the evaporator to the CC, the amount of subcooling carried by the liquid returning to the CC, and the heat exchanged between the CC and ambient. Thus, the operating temperature of an LHP is a function of the evaporator heat input and the condenser sink temperature. The LHP operating temperature can be controlled at a desired set point by actively controlling the CC temperature. Several methods have been developed to control the CC temperature, including direct heating of the CC, coupling block, heat exchanger and separate subcooler, variable conductance heat pipe, vapor by-pass valve, secondary evaporator, and thermoelectric converter. The paper discusses the operating principles, advantages and disadvantages of each method.