Experimental study of a constrained vapor bubble fin heat exchanger in the absence of external natural convection.


In preparation for a microgravity flight experiment on the International Space Station, a constrained vapor bubble fin heat exchanger (CVB) was operated both in a vacuum chamber and in air on Earth to evaluate the effect of the absence of external natural convection. The long-term objective is a general study of a high heat flux, low capillary pressure system with small viscous effects due to the relatively large 3 x 3 x 40 mm dimensions. The current CVB can be viewed as a large-scale version of a micro heat pipe with a large Bond number in the Earth environment but a small Bond number in microgravity. The walls of the CVB are quartz, to allow for image analysis of naturally occurring interference fringes that give the pressure field for liquid flow. The research is synergistic in that the study requires a microgravity environment to obtain a low Bond number and the space program needs thermal control systems, like the CVB, with a large characteristic dimension. In the absence of natural convection, operation of the CVB may be dominated by external radiative losses from its quartz surface. Therefore, an understanding of radiation from the quartz cell is required. All radiative exchange with the surroundings occurs from the outer surface of the CVB when the temperature range renders the quartz walls of the CVB optically thick (lambda > 4 microns). However, for electromagnetic radiation where lambda < 2 microns, the walls are transparent. Experimental results obtained for a cell charged with pentane are compared with those obtained for a dry cell. A numerical model was developed that successfully simulated the behavior and performance of the device observed experimentally.

Cite this paper

@article{Basu2004ExperimentalSO, title={Experimental study of a constrained vapor bubble fin heat exchanger in the absence of external natural convection.}, author={Sumita Basu and Joel L. Plawsky and Peter C. Wayner}, journal={Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences}, year={2004}, volume={1027}, pages={317-29} }