Spacecraft Thermal Control

With trusted expertise in engineering and manufacturing aerospace thermal control systems, ACT consistently delivers innovative solutions to meet the most demanding performance requirements. Our aerospace products group offers cost-effective heat pipe and loop heat pipe products for aerospace thermal control applications including:

Understanding that thermal management, weight, size and structural integrity are all critical aspects to system performance, ACT’s aerospace products are designed and manufactured under strict AS9100:2009 certified quality systems and stringent manufacturing and quality control processes.

Examples of the steps in these processes include:Thermal Management for Satellite and Aerospace

  • Material certification
  • Multi-stage cleaning process with bath monitoring
  • Working fluid triple distillation and processing
  • Aerospace (AWS D17.1) certified welders
  • Helium mass spectrometry leak detection
  • Proof and burst pressure verification
  • Accelerated aging and thermal cycling

Reliability is of paramount importance for all aerospace heat pipes and LHPs. Many satellite applications require the heat pipes and LHPs to operate without any degradation for more than ten years. ACT combines state-of-the-art facilities with world-class engineering to meet or exceed these requirements while paying strict attention to cost and delivery requirements. Contact a member of our team to discuss how we can become your partner in aerospace thermal management, or continue reading below to find out more about our best-in-class aerospace thermal management solutions.

Constant Conductance Heat Pipes

Among the most popular and reliable heat pipe products, ACT’s constant conductance heat pipes (CCHPs) transport heat from a heat source to a heat sink with a very small temperature difference. Axial groove capillary wick structures are utilized because of the relative ease of manufacturing (aluminum extrusions) and their demonstrated reliability in spacecraft and instrument thermal control applications. CCHPs can transport heat in either direction, and are typically used to transfer heat from specific thermal loads to a radiator panel or as part of an integrated heat pipe radiator panel.

The team at ACT has extensive experience developing and manufacturing aerospace-grade CCHPs in our facilities, and can offer a wealth of practical application knowledge for any project gleaned from our proprietary models and years of in-depth experience. Contact us to speak with a representative, or click the link below to learn more.

Typical Application:

  • Payload thermal management
  • Heat transport
  • Isothermalization
  • Radiator panel enhancement
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Variable Conductance Heat Pipes

Variable conductance heat pipes (VCHPs) are devices manufactured by ACT to achieve active temperature control. This is accomplished by blocking a fraction of the condenser with a small amount of non-condensable gas. When the heat load or the condenser temperature increases, the heat pipe temperature tends to rise. The increased vapor pressure compresses the non-condensable gas, exposing more condenser area and as a result increases the heat pipe conductance. The opposite happens when the heat load or the condenser temperature decreases. The variation of the conductance keeps the heat pipe operating temperature nearly constant over a wide range of heat inputs and condenser thermal environments.

A modest level of control is achieved with an uncontrolled, passive reservoir. Precision control is achievable with a temperature controlled reservoir. Axial groove capillary wick structures are often utilized because of the relative ease of manufacturing and their demonstrated reliability in spacecraft and instrument thermal control applications.

ACT manufactures our aerospace-quality VCHPs in-house using proprietary models and under strict AS9100:2009 quality guidelines. Please contact us to speak with an ACT representative about your application, or read more about VCHPs by following the link below.

Typical Application:

  • Passive thermal control of spacecraft electronics
    • Over varying sink conditions
    • Over a wide range of thermal loads
  • Minimizing power requirements for survival heaters
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Loop Heat Pipes

Loop Heat Pipes (LHPs) made by ACT can transport larger amounts of heat over longer distances than heat pipes. LHPs are often used in conjunction with CCHPs and VCHPs to transfer waste heat from spacecraft payloads to radiators. Ammonia is the most commonly used working fluid for temperatures between -40 and 70°C. Propylene and ethane are used for lower temperatures. ACT has also developed titanium/water LHPs for temperatures between 70 and 250°C.

Unlike some of our competitors, all of our Loop Heat Pipe parts, including the primary and secondary wicks, are quality made here in the United States at ACT under strict AS9100-B quality controls. When you contact us about LHPs, you’ll be speaking to the people that engineer and manufacture them.

Typical Application:

  • Payload thermal management
  • Heat transport
  • Radiator panel enhancement
  • Avionics cooling
  • Aircraft anti-icing
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