The loop heat pipe (LHP) is known to have a lower limit on input power. Below this limit the system may not start properly creating the potential for critical payload components to overheat. The LHP becomes especially susceptible to these low power start-up failures following diode operation, intentional shut-down of the device, or very cold conditions. These limits are affected by the presence of adverse tilt, mass on the evaporator, and noncondensible gas in the working fluid. Based on analytical modeling correlated to startup test data, this paper will describe the key parameters driving this low power limit and provide an overview of the methodology for predicting a “safe start” design envelope for a given system and loop design. The amount of incipient superheat was found to be key to the enveloping procedure. Superheat levels have been observed to vary significantly based on evaporator design and even from unit to unit of identical designs. Statistical studies of superheat levels and active measures for limiting superheat should be addressed by both the hardware vendors and the system integrators.

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AIAA Thermophysics
Jane Baumann, Brent Cullimore, Jay Ambrose, Eva Buchan, Brois Yendler