Thermal Control System

Thermal control system

Argotec offers custom solutions for thermal management both for ground and space applications. These thermal control systems are based on passive thermal exchange in which heat transfer is efficiently promoted by means of the evaporation/condensation of a working fluid.

Passive thermal devices are able to efficiently transfer heat once they are mechanically and thermally connected to a hot source on one end and to a heat sink (e.g. a finned structure, a cold plate, or a radiator) on the other end.

The major advantages with respect to traditional single-phase heat transfer devices are the ability to transfer heat with a very small temperature drop and to create a nearly isothermal surface for temperature stabilization. Moreover the use of passive devices avoids the need of active components such as valves and pumps, with advantages in terms of mass and cost reduction, design simplification and improved reliability.

Argotec heritage in the field of two-phase heat transfer devices includes the design, development and qualification of heat pipes, loop heat pipes, and pulsating heat pipes.

The Axially Grooved Heat Pipes are passive thermal devices. They require no external power other than the heat they transfer. They have no moving parts, like mechanical pumps and fans used to circulate the working fluid in traditional systems, which makes them more reliable, free of vibration and completely silent.

The amount of heat that can be transported is typically several orders of magnitude larger than single phase devices for a geometrically equivalent system. Thanks to the two-phase approach the temperature difference between hot and cold parts is lower than the single-phase systems.

Argotec heritage on heat pipes includes several tests performed on-board the International Space Station, confirming the performances of these systems also in microgravity conditions. Moreover long-term repeatability has been demonstrated  by means of ground test campaign and on-orbit tests.

The Loop Heat Pipes are passive thermal devices. They require no external power other than the heat they transfer. They have no moving parts, like mechanical pumps and fans used to circulate the working fluid in traditional systems, which makes them more reliable, free of vibration and completely silent.

The Loop Heat Pipes are essentially composed of two main parts, the evaporator and the condenser.

The evaporator zone is devoted to the evaporation of the working fluid thanks to the heat input. This zone includes a solid case and a porous part, called wick, usually made by means of powder sintering.

The condenser zone consists of a meandering tube covering a wide surface used to reject the heat transported by the working fluid.

Argotec developed several loop heat pipes with different dimensions in order to cover a power range between 20 and 400 Watts. Moreover Argotec tested different fluids able to work in a temperature range between -80°C and 150°C.

These systems are more suitable when the heat needs to be transferred across longer distances with respect to axial heat pipe applications. A particular application of the Loop Heat Pipes is the heat rejection on surfaces, as an example in the radiative thermal panels of spacecraft.

The Pulsating Heat Pipes are passive thermal devices. They require no external power other than the heat they transfer. They have no moving parts, like mechanical pumps and fans used to circulate the working fluid in traditional systems, which makes them more reliable, free of vibration and completely silent.

Pulsating Heat Pipes are generally put in direct contact with surfaces where multiple hot and cold areas can be present.

Pulsating Heat Pipes can be directly embedded in structures by means of Direct Metal Additive Manufacturing. This approach allows to develop light structures with enhanced thermal performance and with higher relative stiffness.

Argotec developed and tested different Pulsating Heat Pipes embedded in mechanical structures. This solution is very appealing in applications where lightness and thermal performance are crucial, as example in CubeSat.

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