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A Pump-Assisted Capillary Loop Evaporator Design for High Heat-Flux Dissipation

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posted on 29.10.2021, 12:39 authored by Silvia Anali Soto de la TorreSilvia Anali Soto de la Torre
Passive two-phase cooling devices such as capillary pump loops, loop heat pipes, and vapor chambers can utilize capillary-fed boiling in the porous evaporator wick to achieve high heat flux dissipation, while maintaining low thermal resistances. These systems typically rely only on passive capillary pumping through the porous wick to transport fluid. This inevitably leads to limits on the maximum heat flux and power dissipation based on the maximum capillary pressure available. To overcome these capillary pumping limitations in these passive devices, a mechanical pump can be added to the system to create a pump-assisted capillary loop (PACL). The pump can actively transport the fluid to overcome the pressure drop in liquid lines, reserving all of the available capillary action to draw liquid from a compensation chamber into the porous evaporator at the location of the heat input.
Previous studies on pump-assisted capillary loops have used a porous pathway to draw liquid to the heated evaporator surface from a liquid supply in the compensation chamber. This pathway typically comprises porous posts distributed over the heated surface area to ensure uniform liquid feeding during boiling and to avoid dryout regions. This thesis presents an evaporator design for a pump-assisted capillary loop system featuring a non-porous manifold connection between the compensation chamber and the evaporator wick base where boiling occurs. By using this approach, microscale liquid-feeding features can be implemented without the manufacturing restrictions associated with the use of porous wick pathways (such as sintered powder copper particles).
An analytical model for two-phase pressure drop prediction in the base wick is developed and used to define the evaporator geometry and feeding structure dimensions. A parametric analysis of the evaporator geometry is performed with the target of achieving a maximum heat dissipation of 1 kW/cm2 without a capillary limit. A 24 x 24 microtube array configuration with an outside tube diameter of 0.25 mm was identified as a result of this analysis. This manifold delivers liquid the base wick manufactured from sintered copper particles with a mean particle diameter of 90 microns.
The resulting evaporator geometry was translated into a manufacturable copper manifold design. A modular test section design consisting of a cover for attachment of fittings, a support structure for holding the manifold, a sintered copper wick base, and a carrier plate was created and manufactured, to accommodate for future testing scheduled to be performed by an external industry partner. The resulting design provides a testing vehicle to investigate the effect of different tubing arrangements and dimensions, as well as multiple base wick configurations. This knowledge can be used to engineer future evaporator architectures for enhanced performance. The improved understanding providing on the effect of liquid feeding distribution into the base wick, the effects of boiling on the base wick pressure drop, and the manufacturing limitations can each improve the performance prediction of evaporators with top feeding.


Degree Type

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Justin A. Weibel

Additional Committee Member 2

Davide Ziviani

Additional Committee Member 3

Shripad T. Revankar