In recent years, loop heat pipe (LHP) technology has transitioned from a developmental technology to one that is flight ready. The LHP is considered to be more robust than capillary pumped loops (CPL) because the LHP does not require any preconditioning of the system prior to application of the heat load, nor does its performance become unstable in the presence of two-phase fluid in the core of the evaporator. However, both devices have a lower limit on input power: below a certain power, the system may not start properly. The LHP becomes especially susceptible to these low power start-ups following diode operation, intentional shut-down, 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 start-up test data, this paper will describe how the minimum power required to start the loop is increased due to the presence of mass, noncondensible gas, and adverse tilt. The end-product is a methodology for predicting a “safe start” design envelope for a given system and loop design.

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Jane Baumann, Brent Cullimore, Boris Yendler, Eva Buchan