Design of heat transfer device for alternative termal regulation method of space craft

Rocket and space engineering


Panin Y. V.*, Korzhov K. N.**

Lavochkin Research and Production Association, NPO Lavochkin, 24, Leningradskay str., Khimki, Moscow region, 141400, Russia



Thermal control system (TCS) is one of main spacecraft support systems. Development of TCS allows increasing mass and energy efficiency of a spacecraft. Therefore, the task of TCS improvement by means of employed in TCS heat pipes (HP) efficiency increasing becomes more and more up-to-date. One of HP efficiency increasing methods means application of special types of HP, which are capable to regulate themselves a value of a transferred heat current. That means that HP is able to change one of its key parameters – the value of transferred heat power during HP operation in the preset temperature ranges. Such type of heat pipes are called variable conductance heat pipes (VCHP).
A breakthrough in the field of VCHP took place at the end of the 80-s of the last century when loop heat pipes (LHP) that outperformed, in many ways, conventional HP appeared. Conductivity regulation in VCHP is carried out by means of either mechanical regulators, or electric heaters, or thermo-electric modules. While wide technical capabilities are provided by rather complicated manufacturing technology characterized by long-term experimental development accounting for VCHP's high cost.
The paper presents design of gas control variable conductance HP, i. e. gas-controlled HP (GCHP) GCHP is an alternative to LHP widely used at present for TCS of modern unpressurised SC. The task of such facilities design seems quite up-to-date, as far as gas controlled VCHP application will allow to increase reliability of autonomous TCS, shorten production time and reduce cost.
Comparative analysis of VCHP state-of-the-art developed by Lavochkin Association is presented in this paper. Also other possible options of alternative VCHP application for SC thermal control are offered.
Algorithm of VCHP developed on the basis of application of capillary structure with axial grooves is offered. Methodology of main design parameters for VCHP with axial grooves determination are presented.
A version of simplified engineering calculation method of variable conductance HP adapted for gas-controlled VCHP with axial grooves is considered. Design of gas-controlled VCHP prototype and results of its testing confirming possibility of application of simplified engineering method for designing such devices is presented.


heat pipe (HP), variable conductance heat pipe (VCHP), gas-controlled heat pipe, loop heat pipe (LHP), thermal control system (TCS)


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