This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Experimental Investigation of Bent and Flattened Heat Pipes for Thermal Management of Defense and Aerospace Electronics




Gomes, Christopher

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Mechanical Engineering


Heat pipes are passive heat transport devices composed of a sturdy outer shell, a porous wick material, and a hermetically sealed inner chamber filled with a working fluid. These devices transfer heat energy from a heat source to a heat sink through a passive, cyclic phase change of the internal working fluid and can exhibit effective thermal conductivities orders of magnitude greater than some of the best known thermally conductive materials on Earth. Typically, heat pipes are designed, tested, and produced in a standard straight-round geometry, but in the application of electronics thermal management, complicated geometrical constraints can interfere with the compatibility of straight-round heat pipes. Thermal management solutions requiring geometrically modified heat pipes are very common, and the alterations of these heat pipes can drastically affect their overall behavior and performance. For this reason, an experimental investigation was performed to observe the effects that post-fabrication geometric modifications, such as bending and flattening, have on the operational limits and thermal behavior of sintered felt wick heat pipes. This study provides an experimental database and observed performance trends which were used to characterize geometrically modified heat pipes in terms of their limits and capabilities. With these results, companies in the defense and aerospace industry will be better equipped to provide efficient thermal management solutions for terrestrial, aerial, and space-based high-powered electronic systems.