Performance Testing and Modeling of a Scaled Fusible Heat Sink Test Article for Exploration Vehicles



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


A water based fusible heat sink is envisioned for use in several future human space vehicles ranging from a deep space habitable airlock to lunar rovers. This radiator concept has the potential to enable active thermal control systems with a single benign working fluid (such as propylene glycol water) as dynamic loading is buffered by the heat capacity of the integrated water layer. This paper presents the results of evaluations of a scaled test article which includes integrated coolant tubes through the radiator’s water reservoir. This testing was completed to validate analysis results and provide insight into freeze direction and control given the enclosure volume’s unique geometry and internal features. The coolant flows through the radiator in two tube bank layers. The first layer is contained within the water volume near the heat rejection interface, i.e. the radiating surface, and the second layer is submerged within the entrained water volume. The inlet temperature and flow rates of each layer can be controlled independently to better match the thermal performance expected in the full scale radiator. Results indicate that a predictable freeze direction can be obtained repeatedly and the associated water ice spike formation can be tolerated by a flexible enclosure. Implications for the next iteration of full scale hardware design are also discussed.


Alexander Hillstrom, University of Texas El Paso, USA
Christopher Massina, NASA - Lyndon B. Johnson Space Cente, USA
Lauren Foley, NASA - Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, USA
Brittany Abraham, Jacobs Engineering/ Aerodyne Industries, USA
Kambiz Andish, HX5, USA
The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.


Thermal Control, Phase Change Material, Spacecraft Radiator