Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) proposes to develop and mature a compact and effective cooling system for standardized modular power electronics aiming for future space missions. In Phase I, ACT performed a trade study and developed two advanced heat spreaders for 3U electronics cooling: (1) Hi-K™ plate and (2) pulsating heat pipe (PHP) thermal plane. Both heat spreaders outperform the conventional heat spreader (conduction only aluminum plate), and can operate in both vertical and horizontal orientations. PHP is 10% lighter than Hi-K™ plate and aluminum plate. In Phase II, ACT will continue to mature the PHP heat spreader technology and develop the complete cooling system of a Modular Electronics Unit (MEU) for space missions. The thermal performance of the PHP from theoretical models and manufacturability will be evaluated to yield an optimum design applicable for various electronics in Space VPX platforms. To characterize the heat spreader performance under various conditions, both transient and steady-state operation will be tested for high and low heat fluxes, as well as in vacuum, and at system level. The performance of PHPs and Hi-K™ plate will be compared in relevant Space VPX environments. An advanced enclosure with embedded cooling will also be developed to minimize the overall system thermal resistance from the cards to the ultimate heat sink on a spacecraft. The final deliverable will be a flight-like MEU cooling system, consisting of down-selected PHP heat spreaders, enhanced conduction card retainers, and an embedded cooling chassis.
The proposed cooling system can effectively remove the waste heat from electronics cards to the heat sink. This will allow for a long duration operation of high-power electronics in space. Many NASA applications will benefit, including human landing systems, cis-lunar Gateway, Electric propulsion to Mars and Planetary habitat, etc. The two-phase thermal plane and embedded chassis cooling concepts are also applicable for high-performance CubeSat thermal management.
High-power-density electronics (e,g, MOSFETs, GTOs, IGBTs, IGCTs) and Space VPX systems will be the major market for the proposed cooling solutions. The “plug-and-play” components developed under this program are adaptable for many terrestrial applications, including MIDS communication systems for military, electronics in missile and radar systems, electric vehicles, data center cooling, etc.