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research-article

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

[+] Author and Article Information
Scott D. Kasen

660 Hunters Place, Suite #012 Charlottesville, VA 22911 skasen@electrawatch.com

Haydn N. G. Wadley

Department of Materials Science and Engineering 395 McCormick Road Charlottesville, VA 22904 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 xx xx, xxxx. Assoc. Editor: Aaron P. Wemhoff.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4042988 History: Received September 24, 2018; Accepted February 09, 2019

Abstract

The intense thermal fluxes and aero-thermo-mechanical 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 return liquid flow. The measured axial temperature profiles resulting from a localized thermal flux applied to the tip are consistent with effective thermal spreading which lowered the peak leading edge temperature and reduced the temperature gradients compared to 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 non-ablative, refractory metal leading edges with oxidation protection in hypersonic environments.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
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