An experimental study is performed to characterize the effect of meniscus recession on the effective pore radius and capillary pumping of copper metal foams which are to be used as wicks in heat pipes for electronic cooling. Knowledge of the effective pore radius is critical in defining the capillary pumping of a wicking material but is rarely measured under operating conditions. It is known that the meniscus of a liquid recedes when evaporating from a porous media, which could impact the effective pore radius and therefore the capillary pumping capabilities of the foam. To elucidate this impact, the evaporation rate is measured from foam strips wicking ethanol from a reservoir while applying heat fluxes to the foam. Using thermocouple and IR camera measurements, the measured evaporation rates are corrected to account for different thermal losses, including natural convection, direct thermal conduction to the liquid, and evaporation from the container. An analytical model is then developed to relate the evaporated mass to the maximum capillary pressure (minimum effective pore radius) provided by the foam. It is shown for the first time, that just before the onset of dryout, the recessed meniscus will lead to 15%, 28%, and 52% decrease in effective pore radius for samples with 68%, 75%, and 82% porosities, respectively. The capillary pumping therefore increases during evaporation. This can have significant impact on the prediction of the capillary limits in two phase capillary driven devices.

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