Tech Briefs

Composite With In Situ Plenums

A document describes a high-performance thermal distribution panel (TDP) concept using high-conductivity (>800 W/mK) macro composite skin with in situ heat pipes. The processing technologies proposed to build such a panel result in a one-piece, inseparable assembly with high conductance in both the X and Y planes. The TDP configuration can also be used to produce panels with high structural stiffness. The one-piece construction of the TDP eliminates the thermal interface between the cooling plenums and the heat spreader base, and obviates the need for bulky mounting flanges and thick heat spreaders used on baseline designs. The conductivity of the TDP can be configured to exceed 800 W/mK with a mass density below 2.5 g/cm3. This material can provide efficient conductive heat transfer between the in situ heat plenums, permitting the use of thinner panel thicknesses. The plenums may be used as heat pipes, loop heat pipes, or liquid cooling channels.

The panel technology used in the TDP is a macro-composite comprised of aluminum- encapsulated annealed pyrolytic graphite (APG). APG is highly aligned crystalline graphite with an in-plane thermal conductivity of 1,700 W/mK. APG has low shear strength and does not constrain the encapsulating material.

The proposed concept has no thermal interfaces between the heat pipes and the spreader plate, further improving the overall conductance of the system. The in situ plenums can also be used for liquid cooling applications. The process can be used to fabricate structural panels by adding a second thin sheet.

This work was done by Mark Montesano of k- Technology, a Division of Thermacore, for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16043-1

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Composite With In Situ Plenums (reference GSC-16043-1) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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