PAYLOAD LEVEL COOLING-SpaceVPX
Embedded computing systems are leveraged across many mission-critical platforms, but few with more challenging requirements than space vehicles. The power requirements for on-board processing, optoelectronics and other high heat flux components are very similar to terrestrial embedded computing applications; however, the space environment adds temperature extremes and other operational conditions that make the thermal design a major factor in system architecture.
When operating in the vacuum of space, heat must be transferred long distances to adequate radiator surface area. The conduction paths from component to card edge and from chassis to the radiator are often limited by the thermal conductivity of the base metal. Due to the high heat flux of the electronics and conduction being the primary bottleneck, copper-water heat pipes are an ideal solution- the challenge is making them so they can survive the mission! Through years of development, ACT has qualified and flown SCWHPs that feature more robust manufacturing techniques to survive the severities of space. An example of a 4U Space VPX board having three (3) SCWHPs transferring heat from components to the card edge is shown below.
The patented Isothermal Card Edge ICE-Lok® is designed to enhance thermal performance for conduction-cooled embedded computing systems. Compared to conventional wedgelocks, the ICE-Lok® creates additional heat transfer paths from card to chassis, thereby reducing the thermal resistance.
The ICE-Lok® thermally enhanced Wedge lock, can be seamlessly integrated into standard VITA systems, enabling a longer lifetime and higher reliability for your critical components without costly board or chassis redesign.
HiK™ Plates/ Heat Pipe Assemblies
HiK™ or high conductivity plates are heat spreaders with embedded heat pipes to transport heat as desired in your system. These plates are particularly useful for cooling of multiple high-power components and managing the thermal load. The HiK™ plate collects and moves the heat from these discrete heat sources to the liquid-cooled edge or air-cooled heat sinks with minimal temperature gradients.
Pulsating Heat Pipe Capabilities for Space and Orbital Systems Applications
Pulsating Heat Pipes are a complementary technology to Space Copper Water Heat Pipes (SCWHPs). While they generally can’t carry as much power and need a minimum temperature difference to start-up, the lack of a wick structure and alternate working fluid selections provide many applicable use cases for spaceflight.