Experimental development and computational optimization of flat heat pipes for CubeSat applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Steven A. Isaacs

Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Colorado Boulder, CO, 80309

Diego A. Arias

Roccor, LLC. Longmont, CO, 80503

Derek Hengeveld

LoadPath Albuquerque, NM, 87108

Peter Hamlington

Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Colorado Boulder, CO, 80309

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4036406 History: Received December 16, 2016; Revised March 28, 2017


Due to the compact and modular nature of CubeSats, thermal management has become a major bottleneck in system design and performance. In this study, we outline the development, initial testing, and modeling of a flat, conformable, lightweight, and efficient two-phase heat strap called FlexCool, currently being developed at Roccor. Using acetone as the working fluid, the heat strap has an average effective thermal conductivity of 2,149 W/m-K, which is approximately four times greater than the thermal conductivity of pure copper. Moreover, the heat strap has a total thickness of only 0.86 mm and is able to withstand internal vapor pressures as high as 930 kPa, demonstrating the suitability of the heat strap for orbital environments where pressure differences can be large. A reduced-order, closed-form theoretical model has been developed in order to predict the maximum heat load achieved by the heat strap for different design and operating parameters. The model is validated using experimental measurements and is used here in combination with a genetic algorithm to optimize the design of the heat strap with respect to maximizing heat transport capability.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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