Wickless pulsating heatpipe systems in space

19th May 2017
Posted By : Anna Flockett
Wickless pulsating heatpipe systems in space

Developed by Aavid Thermalloy´s Italian Design Centre in conjunction with the European Space Agency, REXUS Pulsating Heatpipe System has been launched from the Esrange Space Centre in Kiruna, North Sweden. It´s one of two prototypes manufactured for the INWIP Project (Innovative Wickless Heat Pipe Systems) in order to study the behaviour of a Pulsating Heatpipe System in micro-gravity conditions.

REXUS consists of a bended aluminium tube surrounded by metal foam and inserted into a metal box filled with paraffin wax. The heat, carried by vapour bullets, flows into the metal foam, melting the paraffin wax. Tests have been carried out by installing the device on the REXUS 22 rocket which followed a parabolic trajectory up to an altitude of 90km.

The second prototype designed and manufactured by AAVID for the INWIP Project is the ISS: a Pulsating Heatpipe System connected to 8 Peltier cells. The heat carried by vapour bullets flows inside the aluminium tube warming one side of the Peltier cells while a liquid cold plate cools the other side.

The cooling system will be installed on Zero Gravity Flight, where the plane will run along 32 parables. In correspondence to each peak of each parable, the force of gravity will be balanced by the vertical traction, creating a transient state of 22 seconds of micro-gravity. During this time, the behaviour of the pulsating heatpipe will be observed.

A further aim of the research is the preparation of systematic experimentation on the Thermal Platform1 (TP1) onboard the International Space Station, investigating the performances of cooling systems with ordinary and innovative working fluids.

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