Mini Mechanically Pumped Loop Modelling, Design and Tests for standardized cubesat thermal control



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


With the miniaturization of space-borne sensors, more powerful payloads are anticipated to be used in small satellites. Therefore, new thermal concepts are required to cope with the increasing thermal dissipation and the negative effects. This paper presents a new thermal control concept to thermally standardize small satellites with power dissipation problems and making them thermally independent of their orbits. This new thermal design concept is a small Mechanically Pumped Loop (MPL). The heart of the system is the multi-parallel micro-pump (MPMP) as developed by the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR). This pump concept provides a low mass MPL solution with high reliability. The article describes the concept of the loop and the pump in detail and explains how the design of the MPL takes into account the requirements imposed by CubeSats and their subsystems, thereby ensuring its compatibility with small satellites and a variety of missions. The Mini-MPL is modelled in Matlab to support MPL system design trade-offs. This model is described and modelling results are presented. Subsequently MPL tests results with a mini-MPL prototype are presented and compared with the model results to validate the model. The prototype tests demonstrate the mini-MPL performance and robust operation. Finally, the advantages and drawbacks of the system are elucidated by comparison with conventional thermal design options. The paper concludes with an outlook on further development and mini-MPL applications.


Johannes van Es, NLR
Thomas Ganzeboom, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre NLR
T. H. van den Berg, NLR
Adry Van Vliet, National Aerospace Laboratory NLR
Hugo S. B. Brouwer, ISIS - Innovative Solutions In Space BV
Sander Elvik, Demcon Kryoz
ICES107: Thermal Design of Microsatellites, Nanosatellites, and Picosatellites
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Mini Mechanically Pumped Loop, Piezo pump, Cubesat Thermal Control, Thermal modelling, Thermal testing