A Comparison of System Architectures for a Mechanically Pumped Two-Phase Thermal Control System



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47th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing a mechanically pumped two-phase fluid loop thermal control system to enable novel mission designs. Pumped two-phase fluid loops have the potential to provide robust and effective thermal control that combine the best aspects of passive two-phase systems (heat pipes) and mechanically pumped single-phase fluid loops. The current program requirements include the development of a system with multiple 1 m2 evaporators, each of which is capable of remaining spatially and temporally isothermal while accommodating heat loads of up to 500 W and local fluxes of up to 5 W/cm2. The goal is to attain this using less than 5 W of power. Such a system would be able to accommodate the next generation of payload and bus electronics while using minimal resources. This paper compares two different mechanically pumped two-phase fluid loop architectures in the context of these requirements. A mixed flow and separated flow architecture are compared on a theoretical and experimental basis. Test data from sub-scale, single evaporator/single condenser, mixed flow and separated flow testbeds are presented. In addition, a model is introduced to better understand separated flow systems and some expressions for the theoretical performance limits of such systems are developed. To date, the investigation suggests that a separated flow architecture is better suited to the program requirements. Separated flow systems have the potential to accommodate an isothermalizing two-phase evaporator while using lower levels of power than would be required for a mixed flow system. In addition, it is argued that separated flow systems are more robust and amenable to analysis than mixed flow systems, since they significantly reduce the occurrence of two-phase flow by separating phases in the evaporator. Future work will include developing a full-scale testbed that includes multiple evaporators and condensers in a representative flight configuration.


Benjamin Furst, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), USA
Eric Sunada, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Stefano Cappucci, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Pradeep Bhandari, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Takurou Daimaru, Tohoku University, Japan
Hiroki Nagai, Tohoku University, Japan
ICES201: Two-Phase Thermal Control Technology
The 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in South Carolina, USA on 16 July 2017 through 20 July 2017


two-phase, separated flow, mixed flow, mechanically pumped, fluid loop, isothermal