Heat -- Transmission -- Instruments, Heat pipes, Heat pipes -- Design and construction, Shape memory alloys


This work reports on the design, fabrication and testing of a thermal switch wherein the open and closed states are actuated by shape memory alloy elements while heat is transferred by a heat-pipe. The motivation for such a switch comes from NASA's need for thermal management in advanced spaceport applications associated with future lunar and Mars missions. For example, as the temperature can approximately vary between 40 K to 400 K during lunar day/night cycles, such a switch can reject heat from a cryogen tank in to space during the night cycle while providing thermal isolation during the day cycle. By utilizing shape memory alloy elements in the thermal switch, the need for complicated sensors and active control systems are eliminated while offering superior thermal isolation in the open state. Nickel-Titanium-Iron (Ni-Ti-Fe) shape memory springs are used as the sensing and actuating elements. Iron (Fe) lowers the phase transformation temperatures to cryogenic regimes of operation while introducing an intermediate, low hysteretic, trigonal R-phase in addition to the usual cubic and monoclinic phases typically observed in binary NiTi. The R-phase to cubic phase transformation is used in this application. The methodology of shape memory spring design and fabrication from wire including shape setting is described. Heat transfer is accomplished via heat acquisition, transport and rejection in a variable length heat pipe with pentane and R-134a as working fluids. The approach used to design the shape memory elements, quantify the heat transfer at both ends of the heat pipe and the pressures and stresses associated with the actuation are outlined. Testing of the switch is accomplished in a vacuum bell jar with instrumentation feedthroughs using valves to control the flow of liquid nitrogen and heaters to simulate the temperature changes. Various iv performance parameters are measured and reported under both transient and steady-state conditions. Funding from NASA Kennedy Space Center for this work is gratefully acknowledged.


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Graduation Date





Vaidyanathan, Rajan


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering








Release Date

February 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic

Restricted to the UCF community until February 2013; it will then be open access.

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