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 NASA-standard thermohydraulic analyzer, SINDA/ FLUINT, has been used to model various aspects of loop heat pipe (LHP) operation for more than 12 years. Indeed, this code has many features that were specifically designed for just such specialized tasks, and is unique in this respect.
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.
LHPs and CPLs are increasingly accepted as thermal control solutions for spacecraft, and they are being investigated for various terrestrial applications as well. For a potential user of these technologies, modeling at the system level has been difficult, to say the least, and concurrent engineering methods were non-existent. New methods are now available to address these needs and concurrent CAD methods result in fast and accurate model generation.