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 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.
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.