Research Papers

Heat Pipe Thermal Management at Hypersonic Vehicle Leading Edges: A Low-Temperature Model Study

[+] Author and Article Information
Scott D. Kasen

An AUSTAL USA Company,
660 Hunters Place, Suite 102
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
e-mail: skasen@electrawatch.com

Haydn N. G. Wadley

Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
University of Virginia,
395 McCormick Road
Charlottesville, VA 22904
e-mail: haydn@virginia.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications. Manuscript received September 24, 2018; final manuscript received February 5, 2019; published online May 3, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Aaron P. Wemhoff.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 11(6), 061001 (May 03, 2019) (12 pages) Paper No: TSEA-18-1461; doi: 10.1115/1.4042988 History: Received September 24, 2018; Accepted February 09, 2019

The intense thermal fluxes and aero-thermomechanical loads generated at sharp leading edges of atmospheric hypersonic vehicles traveling above Mach 5 have motivated an interest in novel thermal management strategies. Here, we use a low-temperature stainless steel-water system to experimentally investigate the feasibility of metallic leading edge heat pipe concepts for thermal management in an efficient load supporting structure. The concept is based upon a two-phase, high thermal conductance “heat pipe” which redistributes the localized thermal flux created at the leading edge stagnation point over a larger surface for effective removal. Structural efficiency is achieved by configuring the system as a wedge-shaped sandwich panel with an I-cell core that simultaneously permits axial vapor and returns liquid flow. The measured axial temperature profiles resulting from a localized thermal flux applied to the tip are consistent with effective thermal spreading that lowered the peak leading edge temperature and reduced the temperature gradients when compared with an equivalent structure containing no working fluid. A simple finite element model that treated the vapor as an equivalent, high thermal conductivity material was in good agreement with these experiments. The model is then used to design a niobium alloy-lithium system that is shown to be suitable for enthalpy conditions representative of Mach 7 scramjet-powered flight. The study indicates that the surface temperature reductions of heat pipe-based leading edges may be sufficient to permit the use of nonablative, refractory metal leading edges with oxidation protection in hypersonic environments.

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Fig. 1

Leading edge heat spreader concepts including (a) corrugated, (b) cruciform, and (c) I-core wedges

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Fig. 2

Operational phenomena of the leading edge heat spreader

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Fig. 3

Schematic of the I-core leading edge design

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Fig. 4

Micro-XCT images of the six-layer screen wick: (a) elevated view and (b) side perspective view. One set of wires was placed in the axial direction of the structure and the second therefore transverse to the primary liquid flow direction during operation of the device.

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Fig. 5

Photograph of the stainless steel leading edge system showing (a) the curved leading edge and (b) the internal core and wick (prior to assembly of the end plate)

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Fig. 6

Evacuation and charging apparatus connected to the test article

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Fig. 7

Experimental setup for testing the low-temperature leading edge heat spreader

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Fig. 8

Steady-state, top surface thermographs of (I) the evacuated and (II) charged leading edge at several applied power levels

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Fig. 9

Boundary conditions of the quarter-symmetry FE model are shown in (a). The real system in (b) is modeled as the diverging duct in (c).

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Fig. 10

The effective thermal conductivity of the vapor as a function of Qmax. The right ordinate normalizes keff by the room temperature thermal conductivity of copper (kCu ≈ 400 W/m K).

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Fig. 11

Isometric view of the quarter-symmetry model showing the mesh

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Fig. 12

Comparison of the simulated and experimental line profile surface measurements of (I) the evacuated and (II) charged leading edge at applied power levels of 5, 15, and 25 W. The inset in I(a) shows the location of the line profile. The “closed circle” data point is the tip thermocouple temperature reading.

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Fig. 13

Steady-state comparison of the predicted surface temperature difference to experimental data. The difference is taken from the thermocouple measurement at the tip to the rear edge IR measurement as shown in the inset. The dashed lines are best fits to the data. Two additional data points (10 W and 20 W) not presented in Fig. 12 are shown here.

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Fig. 14

High temperature leading edge model geometry

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Fig. 15

Heat flux distribution for a 3 mm leading edge at Mach 7 (29 km altitude) and the step function approximation used for the FE simulation

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Fig. 16

Solved surface temperatures as a function of axial position for the C103-Li system and a geometrically equivalent, solid C103 leading edge

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Fig. 17

Control volume for the vapor momentum equation of a diverging duct



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