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An Evaluation of the Wicking Characteristics of Stochastic Open-Cell Nickel Foams

[+] Author Affiliations
Jessica Sheehan, Douglas T. Queheillalt, Pamela M. Norris

University of Virginia

Paper No. IMECE2006-15337, pp. 629-634; 6 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Heat Transfer, Volume 3
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 5 – 10, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4786-1 | eISBN: 0-7918-3790-4
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


Heat pipes are a very efficient device which can be used for the rapid transfer of thermal energy. Small and microscale heat pipes are used in a variety of applications such as electronics and microprocessor coolers. As the size of the heat pipe devices increase, the volume and rate at which the working fluid is replenished in the evaporator region becomes an important parameter influencing the performance of the heat pipe system. Here, a stochastic open-cell nickel-foam has been evaluated for use as the wick material in heat pipes. The pore size of the open-cell nickel foam was modified via compression in the through thickness direction in order to evaluate its wicking characteristics and fluid flow resistance as a function of pore size. These properties are controlled by the effective pore size (controlled via through thickness compression) of the nickel foam. The equilibrium wicking height was measured by a simple flow experiment. The mass flow rate and the differential pressure of the crushed foams were measured at each thickness to generate a friction factor as a function of pore size. The equilibrium wicking height results were compared to a simple analytical model of a single capillary tube and found to be in reasonable agreement and the friction factor followed the same trend as the equilibrium wicking height. The experiments were used to evaluate the suitability of stochastic open cell nickel foams as wicks for heat pipe systems.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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