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Investigation of Loop Heat Pipe Survival and Restart After Extreme Cold Environment Exposure

[+] Author Affiliations
Eric Golliher

NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

Jentung Ku

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Anthony Licari

Ohio Aerospace Institute, Cleveland, OH

James Sanzi

Sest, Inc., Cleveland, OH

Paper No. HT2009-88509, pp. 465-469; 5 pages
  • ASME 2009 Heat Transfer Summer Conference collocated with the InterPACK09 and 3rd Energy Sustainability Conferences
  • Volume 3: Combustion, Fire and Reacting Flow; Heat Transfer in Multiphase Systems; Heat Transfer in Transport Phenomena in Manufacturing and Materials Processing; Heat and Mass Transfer in Biotechnology; Low Temperature Heat Transfer; Environmental Heat Transfer; Heat Transfer Education; Visualization of Heat Transfer
  • San Francisco, California, USA, July 19–23, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4358-1 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3851-8
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


NASA plans human exploration near the South Pole of the Moon, and other locations where the environment is extremely cold. This paper reports on the heat transfer performance of a loop heat pipe exposed to extreme cold under the simulated reduced gravitational environment of the Moon. A common method of spacecraft thermal control is to use a loop heat pipe with ammonia working fluid. Typically, a small amount of heat is provided either by electrical heaters or by environmental design, such that the loop heat pipe condenser temperature never drops below the freezing point of ammonia. The concern is that a liquid-filled, frozen condenser would not re-start, or that a thawing condenser would damage the tubing due to the expansion of ammonia upon thawing. This paper reports the results of an experimental investigation of a novel approach to avoid these problems. The loop heat pipe compensation chamber is conditioned such that all the ammonia liquid is removed from the condenser and the loop heat pipe is non-operating. The condenser temperature is then reduced to below that of the ammonia freezing point. The loop heat pipe is then successfully re-started.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME
Topics: Heat pipes



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