Flexible metal-fabric radiators have been considered as alternative means of dissipating excess heat from spacecraft and space suits. The radiators also may be useful in such special terrestrial applications as rejecting heat from space-suit-like protective suits worn in hot work environments. In addition to flexibility and consequent ease of deployment and installation on objects of varying sizes and shapes, the main advantages of these radiators over conventional rigid radiators are that they weigh less and occupy less volume for a given amount of cooling capacity. A radiator of this type includes conventional stainless-steel tubes carrying a coolant fluid. The main radiating component consists of a fabric of interwoven aluminum-foil strips bonded to the tubes by use of a proprietary process. The strip/tube bonds are strong and highly thermally conductive. Coolant is fed to and from the tubes via flexible stainless-steel manifolds designed to accommodate flexing of, and minimize bending forces on, the fabric. The manifolds are sized to minimize pressure drops and distribute the flow of coolant evenly to all the tubes. The tubes and manifolds are configured in two independent flow loops for operational flexibility and protective redundancy.

This work was done by Cynthia Cross and Hai D. Nguyen of Johnson Space Center, and Warren Ruemmele, Kambiz K. Andish, and Sean McCalley of Lockheed Martin Corp. For further information, contact the Johnson Innovative Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-23331


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2005 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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