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NUMERICAL INVESTIGATION OF PCM BASED THERMAL CONTROL MODULE FOR SPACE APPLICATIONS

Akshay Desai
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

V. K. Singh
Thermal Engineering Division, Space Applications Centre Indian Space Research Organization, Ahmedabad-380015, India

R. R. Bhavsar
Thermal Engineering Division, Space Applications Centre Indian Space Research Organization, Ahmedabad-380015, India

DOI: 10.1615/IHMTC-2017.870
pages 621-628

Abstract

Efficient thermal management of spacecraft subsystem is required to maintain the component within their operating temperature range for long life operation and reliability. PCM is one of the solution to prevent the component from overheating. Phase change material operates at nearly constant temperature during phase change by absorbing the latent heat of fusion. In the present study, numerical as well as experimental investigation have been performed on thermal control module considering two cases: (a) Without PCM (b) Thermal control module filled with PCM. Generally PCM suffers from low thermal conductivity which has to be enhanced by providing thermal conductivity enhancer results into better performance of thermal control module. Here, Dimethyl sulfoxide is taken as the phase change material having 18° C of phase change temperature.
In the present study, the thermal management of detector is carried out which is having cyclic heat load during the orbital period. Detector generates 10W of heat for 12 minutes (ON cycle) and for next 88 minutes, it remains inactive (OFF cycle). To reduce the excursion of temperature in detector, one thermal control module integrated with phase change material is developed using COMSOL Multiphysics® software. By the numerical investigations, the effects of PCM on the performance of thermal control module are studied. The grid independence study is performed to get the accurate results. The apparent heat capacity method is used to capture the phase change phenomena. Also optimization study is performed for the thermal conductivity enhancer. Numerical model is validated by performing the experiment for the same conditions and module. It shows good agreement between numerical and experimental results. The noticeable temperature difference is observed between with and without PCM based module which is 26° C. By TCE optimization, the considerable temperature difference is observed around 19° C.

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