Design and testing of fabric composite heat pipes for space nuclear power applications Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/mc87ps82v

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  • Conventional stainless steel - water and ceramic fabric composite water heat pipes have been built and tested. The tests have been conducted to compare the performance characteristics between conventional and fabric composite heat pipe radiators for space nuclear power heat rejection systems. The fabric composite concept combines a strong ceramic fabric with a thin metal liner to form a very lightweight heat pipe. The heat pipes tested have used identical, homogeneous fabric wicks and water as the working fluid. One fabric composite heat pipe has been constructed by fitting a braided aluminoborosilicate fabric tube over the outside of the conventional stainless steel heat pipe. A more advanced fabric composite design combines the woven fabric with a 0.25 mm (10 mil) stainless steel tube as the liner, and reduces the mass of the heat pipe by a factor of three. A heat pipe testing facility was designed and built for the purpose of testing various conventional and fabric composite heat pipes. This facility allows the testing of heat pipes in a vacuum, at low temperatures, and can accommodate a variety of heat pipe designs. Instrumentation and computer interfacing provide for continuous monitoring and evaluation of heat pipe performance. Tests show that heat pipe radiator capacity can be significantly enhanced by using the fabric composite design. Tests comparing a conventional heat pipe with fabric composite heat pipes achieved a 100% increase in the emissivity and heat rejection capacity of the radiator. Since the ceramic fabric is strong enough to withstand the internal pressure of the heat pipe, a very thin metal foil can be used to contain the working fluid. The increase in heat rejection capacity, combined with the significant reduction in the heat pipe mass, translates into a substantial savings for space power systems employing fabric composite heat pipe radiators.
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