2008

Lightweight Carbon-Carbon High-Temperature Space Radiator

A document summarizes the development of a carbon-carbon composite radiator for dissipating waste heat from a spacecraft nuclear reactor. The radiator is to be bonded to metal heat pipes and to operate in conjunction with them at a temperature approximately between 500 and 1,000 K. A goal of this development is to reduce the average areal mass density of a radiator to about 2 kg/m2 from the current value of ≈10 kg/m2 characteristic of spacecraft radiators made largely of metals.

Accomplishments thus far include: (1) bonding of metal tubes to carbon-carbon material by a carbonization process that includes heating to a temperature of 620 °C; (2) verification of the thermal and mechanical integrity of the bonds through pressure-cycling, axial-shear, and bending tests; and (3) construction and testing of two prototype heat-pipe/carbon-carbon-radiator units having different radiator areas, numbers of heat pipes, and areal mass densities. On the basis of the results achieved thus far, it is estimated that optimization of design could yield an areal mass density of 2.2 kg/m2 — close to the goal of 2 kg/m2.

This work was done by W. O. Miller and Wei Shih of Allcomp Corp. for Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18210-1.