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Overview of Loop Heat Pipe OperationLoop heat pipes (LHP's) are two-phase heat transfer devices that utilize the evaporation and condensation of a working fluid to transfer heat, and the capillary forces developed in the porous wicks to circulate the fluid. The LHP was first developed in the former Soviet Union in the early 1980s, about the same time that the capillary pumped loop (CPL) was developed in the United States. The LHP is known for its high pumping capability and robust operation mainly due to the use of fine-pored metal wicks and an integral evaporator/hydro-accumulator design. The LHP technology is rapidly gaining acceptance in aerospace community. It is the baseline design for thermal control of several spacecraft, including NASA's GLAS and Chemistry, ESA's ATLID, CNES' STENTOR, RKA's OBZOR, and several commercial satellites. Numerous LHP papers have been published since the mid-1980's. Most papers presented test results and discussions on certain specific aspects of the LHP operation. LHP's and CPL's show many similarities in their operating principles and performance characteristics. However, they also display significant differences in many aspects of their operation. Some of the LHP behaviors may seem strange or mysterious, even to experienced CPL practitioners. The main purpose of this paper is to present a systematic description of the operating principles and thermal-hydraulic behaviors of LHP'S. LHP operating principles will be given first, followed by a description of the thermal-hydraulics involved in LHP operation. Operating characteristics and important parameters affecting the LHP operation will then be described in detail. Peculiar behaviors of the LHP, including temperature hysteresis and temperature overshoot during start-up, will be explained. For simplicity, most discussions will focus upon LHP's with a single evaporator and a single condenser, but devices with multiple evaporators and condensers will also be discussed. Similarities and differences between LHP's and CPL's will be addressed throughout the paper whenever appropriate.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Ku, Jentung (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer
Meeting Information
Two-Phase Technology(College Park, MD)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.