Research Papers: Heat and Mass Transfer

Experimental Investigation of the Feasibility of Using a Liquid Metal as a Variable Conductance Radiator for Space Applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Taegyu Kim

Department of Aerospace Engineering,
Chosun University,
309 Pilmun-daero,
Dong-gu 61452, Gwangju, South Korea

Hyun-Ung Oh

Department of Aerospace Engineering,
Chosun University, 309 Pilmun-daero,
Dong-gu 61452, Gwangju, South Korea
e-mail: ohu129@chosun.ac.kr

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received December 27, 2017; final manuscript received September 24, 2018; published online November 16, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Ali Khounsary.

J. Heat Transfer 141(1), 012002 (Nov 16, 2018) (10 pages) Paper No: HT-17-1774; doi: 10.1115/1.4041558 History: Received December 27, 2017; Revised September 24, 2018

The feasibility of using a liquid metal with a high thermal conductivity as a functional fluid for realizing a variable conductance radiator (VCR) for space applications was proposed and investigated. The variable thermal conductivity of the radiator can be achieved by moving the liquid metal using a magneto-hydraulic pump between the two reservoirs in accordance with the temperature requirements of the on-board equipment. The liquid metal radiator proposed in this study is much more effective for saving heater power under cold condition while effectively dissipating heat to deep space under hot condition. The thermal behavior of the liquid metal radiator was demonstrated using the ambient thermal tests under cooling and insulation modes of the radiator. The performance of the proposed VCR was evaluated by comparing it with that of the conventional radiator whose conductivity value is fixed. The proposed radiator using the liquid metal was more effective than conventional radiator for suppressing the rate of increase of temperature for the heat dissipation unit in the cooling mode and for saving additional heater power by removing the liquid metal in the insulation mode.

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Fig. 1

Operation concept of VCR: (a) cooling mode (electric component turns ON) and (b) insulation mode (electric component turns OFF)

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Fig. 2

Mathematical model of the heat transfer of the VCR: (a) with and (b) without the liquid metal

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Fig. 3

Thermal resistances and effective thermal conductivities of the heat transfer path with and without the liquid metal

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Fig. 4

Configuration of the VCR specimen: (a) top and side view of the VCR specimen and (b) exploded view of the VCR specimen

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Fig. 5

Experimental setup for the performance evaluation of the VCR

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Fig. 6

Video frame of the movement of the liquid metal (top view)

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Fig. 7

Infrared thermographs and temperature mappings of the VCR: (a) IR thermographs of the VCR with (right) and without (left) the liquid metal and (b) temperature of the reservoir of the VCR with and without the liquidmetal

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Fig. 8

Temperature profile when the liquid metal is moved back from reservoir 2 to reservoir 1

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Fig. 9

Thermal mathematical model of the radiator module combined with the electronics: (a) external view and (b) internal view

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Fig. 10

Thermal analysis results in the hot and cold conditions



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