This paper summarizes the results of an experimental investigation of the performance characteristics of a gravity/capillary driven heat pipe using water/alcohol mixtures as a working fluid. This investigation specifically explored the use of water/alcohol mixtures that exhibit strong concentration-based Marangoni effects. Experiments to determine heat pipe performance were conducted for pure water and water/alcohol solutions with increasing concentrations of alcohol. Initial tests with pure water determined the optimal working fluid charge for the heat pipe; subsequent performance tests over a wide range of heat input levels were then conducted for each working fluid at this optimum value. The results indicate that some mixtures can significantly enhance the heat transfer coefficient and heat flux capability of the heat pipe evaporator. For the best mixture tested, the maximum evaporator heat flux carried by the coolant without dryout was found to be 52% higher than the value for the same heat pipe using pure water as a coolant under comparable conditions. Peak evaporator heat flux values above 100 W/cm2 were achieved with some mixtures. Evaporator and condenser heat transfer coefficient data are presented, and the trends are examined in the context of the expected effect of the Marangoni mechanisms on heat transfer.

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