The fluid flow and heat transfer characteristics of micro heat pipes are analyzed theoretically, in order to understand the physical phenomena and quantify the influence of various parameters on overall thermal performance of these devices. A one-dimensional model is utilized to solve the governing equations for the liquid/vapor flow and the heat transfer in the heat pipe channel. Variations in the liquid and vapor cross-sectional areas along the axial length of the heat pipe are included and the equations are solved using an implicit finite difference scheme. Appropriate models for fluid friction in small passages with varying cross-sectional areas have been incorporated to yield the axial distribution of the meniscus radius of curvature and the velocity, temperature and pressure in both the liquid and the vapor phases. Using this information, the effective thermal conductivity of the micro heat pipe is modeled, and parametric studies are performed by changing the heat load and cooling rate. The results of the analysis are discussed and compared with other theoretical models and experimental results found in the literature. By so doing, this analysis provides greater insight into the physical phenomena of flow and heat transfer in micro heat pipes and identifies a methodology for optimizing the design of these devices.

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