Thermoelectric couples are solid-state devices capable of generating electrical power from a temperature gradient (known as the Seebeck effect) or converting electrical energy into a temperature gradient (known as the Peltier effect). Thermoelectric coolers, being solid state devices, have no moving parts which makes them inherently reliable and ideal for cooling components in a system sensitive to mechanical vibration. The ability to use TECs to heat as well as cool makes them suitable for applications requiring temperature stabilization of a device over a specified temperature range.
Loop heat pipes (LHPs) are used in multiple terrestrial and space applications. Transient analysis of conventional and advanced loop heat pipes with complex radiators under varying conditions where the heat load and the effective sink temperature change in time can be best accomplished using Thermal Desktop™.
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.
The primary thermal management issue associated with Space Solar Power (SSP) is the need to acquire, transport and reject waste heat loads, on the order of 3.8 GW, from the transmitter to remote radiator locations. Previous conceptual studies have focused on transporting these loads to large remote radiators. These concepts assumed the ability to transport the heat either passively or mechanical over large transport distances of 100 meters or more.
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.
Active cooling technologies such as heat pipes, loop heat pipes (LHPs), thermosyphons, loop thermosyphons (LTSs), and pumped single- or two-phase coolant loops require specialized modeling treatment. However, these 1D ducted systems are largely overlooked in 3D thermal modeling tools. The increasing popularity of CFD and FEM models and generation of analysis data from 3D CAD data are strong trends in the thermal analysis community, but most software answering such demands has not provided linear modeling elements appropriate for the simulation of heat pipes and coolant loops.
As air cooling of electronics reaches the limits of its applicability, the next generation of cooling technology is likely to involve heat pipes and single- or two-phase coolant loops (including perhaps loop thermosyphons, spray cooling, vapor compression refrigeration cycles, and loop heat pipes). These technologies are not suitable for analysis using 2D/3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, and yet the geometric complexities of the thermal/structural models make network-style schematic modeling methods cumbersome.