Micro-Channel Thermal Control System Development
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Thermal control systems are a cross-cutting technology that applies to many NASA missions ranging from the International Space Station, to heavy lift launch vehicles, to satellites and small CubeSats. Of particular interest to all of these space vehicles is the acquisition of heat, especially from high heat flux electronic devices that can approach 1000 W/cm2. Power electronics in these systems, as well as with many commercial systems, need improved heat dissipation technologies that can reject these high heat loads and maintain lower device temperatures in lightweight, compact, and cost-effective thermal management solutions. A new additive-based manufacturing approach for making micro-channel thermal management system has been developed by Reactive Innovations, LLC that departs from the traditional methods and introduces new performance features. Traditional methods are based upon subtractive methods removing material from a block to define the flow structure. Reactive’s approach is an additive based technology where 3-dimensional flow networks are formed that contain varying sized channels and shapes, converging and diverging ducts, integrated venturi nozzles, manifolds, multi-channels, wicks, etc. that fully define the fluid flow regime. Feature sizes less than 100 microns upwards to 6000 microns along with varying sized shapes and 3-dimensional design characteristics have been produced using this method all fashioned into a single continuous flow network. The resulting thermal management systems are thus very lightweight. With this new manufacturing technology, compact and lightweight thermal management systems may be inexpensively produced ranging from single-phase to two-phase flow systems including loop heat pipe systems. Experimental and thermal modeling data will be presented on these new thermal management devices along with the additive-based manufacturing technology.