Development of a Lightweight and Low-Cost 3D-Printed Aluminum PCM Panel for Thermal Management of CubeSat Applications

Date

2017-07-16

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

47th International Conference on Environmental Systems

Abstract

In order to achieve proper thermal control of CubeSats and SmallSats, limited by their available surface area and thermal mass, novel miniaturized passive thermal management systems need to be developed [1]. Roccor is developing lightweight, efficient and low-cost phase change material (PCM) thermal energy storage panels, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), also known as 3D printing. DMLS allows for designing low-cost, integrated structural-and-thermal management systems, optimized for size weight and performance (“SWaP”). Computer models were developed for the design and analysis of the PCM panels: the transient behavior of the panels in a conceptual 1U CubeSat design under low-earth orbits with large eclipse fractions was analyzed using Thermal Desktop. Thermo-structural finite element analysis and computational fluid dynamics were used for studying the mechanical strength of the panels, as well as for investigating the appropriate internal structures that ensure complete filling with liquid PCM. Three different paraffins were selected over a range of melting temperatures from ~28° to 60°C. Literature values of melting temperature, specific heat and enthalpy of fusion were validated using differential scanning calorimetry, while thermal diffusivities and thermal conductivities were validated using and laser flash method. While the results were within 5% of literature values for octadecane and eicosane, paraffin exhibited behaviors not captured by single melting temperature and enthalpy of fusion values. While PCM’s offer large thermal storage capacity due to their enthalpy of fusion at moderate temperatures, they exhibit low thermal conductivities. Traditionally, filler materials are needed for the PCM’s thermal-conductivities. By using DSML, it is possible to design features that double as thermal conductivity enhancements and mechanical load transfer structures. Thermal vacuum testing was performed on PCM panel prototypes demonstrating the integrity of the panels over multiple cycles.

[1] Shimmin, R., 2015, “Small Spacecraft Technology State of the Art”, NASA/TP 2015 216648/REV1.

Description

Steven Isaacs, Roccor, LLC, USA
Diego Arias, Roccor, LLC, USA
Greg Shoukas, Roccor, LLC, USA
ICES107: Thermal Design of Microsatellites, Nanosatellites, and Picosatellites
The 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in South Carolina, USA on 16 July 2017 through 20 July 2017

Keywords

Thermal energy storage, thermal control systems, phase change materials, direct laser sintering, 3D printing, transient analysis, Thermal Desktop, CubeSats

Citation