Heat Pipe Fundamentals

The modern heat pipe technology was originated from the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in 1963. A good description of the history of heat pipe technology can be found in an early article published by Yale Eastman (currently a Director of ACT) in Scientific American in May 1968.

A typical tubular heat pipe is illustrated below.

What Are Heat Pipes?

A heat pipe is sealed under a vacuum with a small, prescribed amount of working fluid. During non-operation, the fluid is contained inside the wick structure that lines the inner diameter of the heat pipe. When a heat source, such as an electronic component, generates heat, the fluid vaporizes at what is known as the evaporator section. The fluid vapor quickly spreads to the other end of the heat pipe, using pressure generated by the temperature difference. At the opposite end, known as the condenser, the fluid gives up its latent heat, which is rejected to an external heat sink. The fluid then returns to liquid form, and the wick structure passively pumps the fluid back to the evaporator using capillary force. By utilizing liquid and vapor phases, the heat transport is extremely efficient. Because it’s a closed loop system, heat pipes operate continuously and passively, creating a very reliable component in your thermal management system.

Heat Pipe Resources


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