Low Cost Variable Conductance Heat Pipe for Balloon Payload

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX11CF08P
Agency Tracking Number: 105919
Amount: $99,962.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: S3.07
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
1046 New Holland Ave., Lancaster, PA, 17601-5606
DUNS: 126288336
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Calin Tarau
 Principal Investigator
 (717) 295-6061
Business Contact
 Jon Zuo
Title: President
Phone: (717) 295-6058
Email: jon.zuo@1-ACT.com
Research Institution
While continuously increasing in complexity, the payloads of terrestrial high altitude balloons need a thermal management system to reject their waste heat and to maintain a stable temperature as the air (sink) temperature swings from as cold as -90<SUP>o</SUP>C to as hot as +40<SUP>o</SUP>C. Currently, constant conductance, copper-methanol heat pipes are utilized on balloon payloads to remove the waste heat. It would be desirable to use a Variable Conductance Heat Pipe (VCHP) instead, to allow the thermal resistance to increase under cold operating or cold survival environment conditions, keeping the instrument section warm. In spacecraft, thermal management is achieved using axially-grooved aluminum-ammonia heat pipes and VCHPs, which are relatively expensive to manufacture and validate. Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) is proposing a low-cost VCHP based on smooth-bore, thin-wall stainless steel tubing, with either methanol or pentane as working fluids, that is capable of passively maintaining a relatively constant evaporator (payload) temperature while the sink temperature varies between -90<SUP>o</SUP>C and +40<SUP>o</SUP>C. The thin wall will be much lighter and will provide much better temperature control due to its higher thermal resistance, while the combination of working fluid and envelope material result in a heat pipe that is much less expensive to manufacture than standard grooved aluminum heat pipes. Spacecraft VCHPs normally have the gas reservoir at the end of the condenser, and maintain its temperature with electrical heaters. The proposed VCHP moves the reservoir near the evaporator, eliminating the need for electrical power to control the temperature. Preliminary calculations show that either system, methanol based or pentane based, is capable of meeting the thermal performance requirements. For both the pentane and methanol systems, the evaporator (payload) temperature varies less than 6<SUP>o</SUP>C while the heat sink temperature varies from 90<SUP>o</SUP>C to +40<SUP>o</SUP>C.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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