Over the past decade, the search for and development of high performance thermal transport systems for a variety of cooling and thermal control applications have intensified. One approach employs a new semi-passive oscillatory heat transport system called the Pulse Thermal Loop (PTL). The PTL, which has only recently begun to be characterized, exploits large pressure differentials from coupled evaporators to force (pulse) fluid through the system. Driving pressures of over 1.8MPa (260psid) have been demonstrated. Other passive cooling systems, such as heat pipes and Loop Heat Pipes, are limited by capillary driving forces, typically less than 70kPa (10psid). Large driving forces can be achieved by a mechanically pumped loop, however, at the expense of increased power consumption, increased total mass, and increased system cost and complexity. The PTL can be configured in either active or semi-passive modes, it can be readily designed for large ∼ O(100kW) or small ∼ O(10W) heat loads, and it has a variety of unique performance characteristics. For low surface tension dielectric fluids such as R-134a, the PTL system has over a 10-fold heat carrying capacity in comparison to high performance heat pipes. Data accumulated thus far demonstrate that the PTL can meet many of the requirements of advanced terrestrial and spacecraft cooling systems: a system that is robust, ‘semi-passive,’ high flux, and offers high heat transport thermal control while remaining flexible in design, potentially lightweight, and cost competitive.

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