Fundamental heat transfer experiments were carried out for three kinds of heat pipes which may be applied to turbine cooling in future aero-engines. In the turbine cooling system with a heat pipe, heat transfer rate and start-up time of the heat pipe are the most important performance criteria to evaluate and compare with conventional cooling methods. Three heat pipes are considered, called heat pipe A, B and C, respectively. All heat pipes have a stainless steel shell and nickel sintered powder metal wick. Sodium(Na) was the working fluid for heat pipes A and B; heat pipe C used eutectic sodium-potassium(NaK). Heat pipes B and C included non-condensible gas for rapid start-up. There were fins on the cooling section of heat pipes. In the experiments, an infrared image furnace supplied heat to the heat pipe simulating turbine blade surface conditions.
In the results, heat pipe B demonstrated the highest heat flux of 17 to 20 W/cm2. The start-up time was about 6 minutes for heat pipe B and about 16 minutes for heat pipe A. Thus adding non-condensible gas effectively reduced start-up time. Although NaK is a liquid phase at room temperature, the start-up time of heat pipe C (about 7 to 8 minutes) was not shorter than the heat pipe B. The effect of a gravitational force on heat pipe performance was also estimated by inclining the heat pipe at an angle of 90 degrees. There was no significant gravitational dependence on heat transport for heat pipes including non-condensible gas.