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Technical Paper

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.
Technical Paper

Loop Heat Pipe Operating Temperature Dependence on Liquid Line Return Temperature

A Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) is a passive two-phase heat transfer device developed and successfully employed to cool spacecraft (satellite) electronics. The intrinsic benefits of this technology (lightweight, small volume, high thermal conductance) make it an attractive potential solution to many problems in ground vehicle thermal management. As most published LHP research has focused on cooling orbiting spacecraft components, there is little knowledge of how LHPs perform under the temperature extremes (−40°C to 40°C) and diurnal/seasonal fluctuations anticipated with terrestrial applications. Ambient temperature extremes mandate consideration of transport line heat exchange with the surroundings (parasitic losses/gains). This paper presents results from an experimental investigation of liquid line return temperature impact on system performance for sink temperatures from −30°C to 40°C and evaporator loads up to 700 Watts.
Technical Paper

Operating Characteristics of Loop Heat Pipes

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.
Technical Paper

Flow Visualization within a Capillary Evaporator

A Capillary Pumped Loop (CPL) is an advanced two-phase heat transport device which utilizes capillary forces developed within porous wicks to move a working fluid. The advantage this system has over conventional thermal management systems is its ability to transfer large heat loads over long distances at a controlled temperature. Extensive ground testing and two flight experiments have been performed over the past decade which have demonstrated the potential of the CPL as a reliable and versatile thermal control system for space applications. While the performance of CPL's as “black boxes” is now well understood, the internal thermo-fluid dynamics in a CPL are poorly known due to the difficulty of taking internal measurements. In order to visualize transient thermohydraulic processes occurring inside an evaporator, a see-through capillary evaporator was built and tested at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Technical Paper

Testing of Flight Components for the Capillary Pumped Loop Flight Experiment

The Capillary Pumped Loop Flight Experiment (CAPL) is a prototype of the Earth Observing System (EOS) instrument thermal control systems. Four CAPL flight hardware components were tested in the Instrument Thermal Test Bed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The components tested were the capillary cold plates, capillary starter pump, heat pipe heat exchangers (HPHXs), and reservoir. The testing verified that all components meet or exceed their individual performance specifications. Consequently, the components have been integrated into the CAPL experiment which will be flown on the Space Shuttle in late 1993.
Technical Paper

An Improved High Power Hybrid capillary pumped loop

The High-Power Spacecraft Thermal Management (HPSTM) system was modified and upgraded to facilitate improved performance testing. Modifications to the system included augmenting the heat dissipation capacity of the condenser sink for steady-state high power operation, adding more pressure transducers to monitor pressure drops in various components of the system, installing pressure contact thermocouples on the evaporators to measure the heating surface temperature, providing a coolant loop to one of the evaporator plates for heat load sharing operation, installing a load cell on the reservoir to monitor transient fluid flows, and re-orienting the reservoir to reduce the effects of compressed vapor during transient operations. The system demonstrated a steady, continuous operation at a power input of 20 kW for 10 hours in the capillary mode. Test results also showed about 33% less variation of the reservoir set point temperature during power transients.
Technical Paper

Thermal Vacuum Testing of the Capillary Pumped Loop Flight Experiment

The Capillary Pumped Loop Flight Experiment (CAPL) is a prototype of the Earth Observing System (EOS) instrument thermal control systems, which are based on two-phase heat transfer technology. The CAPL experiment has been functionally tested in a thermal vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The tests performed included start-up tests, simulated EOS instrument power profiles, low and high power profiles, a variety of uneven coldplate heating tests, subcooling requirement tests, an induced deprime test, reprimes, saturation temperature changes, and a hybrid (mechanical pump-assist) test. There were a few unexpected evaporator deprimes, but overall the testing was successful. The results of all of the tests are discussed, with emphasis on the deprimes and suspected causes.
Technical Paper

Hydrodynamic Aspects of Capillary Pumped Loops

The the past, the design of a Capillary Pumped Loop involved mainly on the thermodynamics and heat transfer aspects of the system. The fluid flow dynamics of the working fluid were deemed benign to the system performance. Recently theoretical and experimental studies have revealed several mechanisms that led to the deprime of the capillary pumps. These mechanisms were all related to the dynamics of the fluid movement inside the loop.