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Minimizing the Wick Thickness in a Planar Microscale Loop Heat Pipe Using Efficient Thermodynamic Design

[+] Author Affiliations
Navdeep S. Dhillon, Jim C. Cheng, Albert P. Pisano

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Paper No. IMECE2011-64698, pp. 1121-1129; 9 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6: Fluids and Thermal Systems; Advances for Process Industries, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5492-1
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Theoretical and numerical thermodynamic analysis of the evaporator section of a planar microscale loop heat pipe is presented, to minimize the permissible wick thickness in such a device. In conventional cylindrical loop heat pipes, a minimum wick thickness is required in order to reduce parasitic heat flow, and prevent vapor leakage, into the compensation chamber. By taking advantage of the possibilities allowed by microfabrication techniques, a planar evaporator/compensation chamber design topology is proposed to overcome this limitation, which will enable wafer-based loop heat pipes with device thicknesses on the order of a millimeter or less. Thermodynamic principles governing two-phase flow of the working fluid in a loop heat pipe are analyzed to elucidate the fundamental requirements that would characterize the startup and steady state operation of a planar phase-change device. A three dimensional finite element thermal-fluid solver is implemented to study the thermal characteristics of the evaporator section and compensation chamber regions of a planar vertically wicking micro-columnated loop heat pipe. The use of in-plane thermal conduction barriers to reduce parasitic heat flow into the compensation chamber is demonstrated.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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