Research is underway to develop a 75-kW heat pipe to transfer solar energy from the focus of a parabolic dish concentrator to the heater tubes of a Stirling engine. The high flux levels and high total power level encountered in this application have made it necessary to use a high-performance wick structure with fibers on the order of 4 to 8 microns in diameter. This fine wick structure is highly susceptible to corrosion damage and plugging, as dissolved contaminants plate out on the evaporator surface. Normal operation of the heat pipe also tends to concentrate contaminants in localized areas of the evaporator surface where heat fluxes are the highest. Sandia National Laboratories is conducting a systematic study to identify procedures that reduce corrosion and contamination problems in liquid-metal heat pipes. A series of heat pipes are being tested to explore different options for cleaning heat-pipe systems. Models are being developed to help understand the overall importance of operating parameters on the life of heat-pipe systems. In this paper, we present our efforts to reduce corrosion damage.

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