ACT wins $5.5m for five heat pipe projects  

ACT wins $5.5m for five heat pipe projects  

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Advanced Cooling Technologies (ACT) in the US has won five Phase II projects for thermal management from the Department of Energy with $5.5 million in funding.

The five ACT projects include a heat pipe cooling system for high frequency, medium voltage planar transformers as well as a polymer-based conformal space radiation shield built with 3D printing.

The project for improving cooling for high-frequency transformers used in electric vehicle charging stations aims to increase charger efficiency and power with passive cooling features such as ceramic heat pipes that will remove heat from key transformer components.

ACT is developing a 3D-printed radiation shield using polymer composites for space electronics. The lightweight shield blocks cosmic radiation using a metal oxide polymer layer and dissipates heat through a fiber-reinforced polymer layer. By 3D printing the shield, it can be optimized for strength without adding excessive weight. This allows inexpensive commercial electronics to be used in space through customizable shielding.

It is also developing an advanced cryogenic loop heat pipe (Cryo-LHP) to cool semiconductor detector arrays in scientific instruments. Unlike a typical heat pipe, this system has a separate capillary pump that generates fluid flow without attaching to the heat source. The detector array connects to an evaporator in the loop. Heat vaporizes liquid in the evaporator, cooling the detectors. The vapor flows to a condenser linked to a heat sink where it condenses back to liquid, returning to the evaporator and repeating the cycle. This aims to efficiently manage the extreme cold temperature needs of sensitive detector arrays.

A high-temperature thermal energy storage system to capture and reuse industrial waste heat will use aluminium as a phase change material (PCM) to absorb heat for later use. One of the main concerns is Al-induced corrosion for use a PCM. ACT is tackling this using a combination of corrosion-resistant coatings and ceramic encapsulation. This waste heat capture system aims to improve industrial energy efficiency and reduce costs.

“Winning 5 DOE Phase II SBIRs is a tremendous achievement for ACT,” said Bill Anderson, Chief Engineer for ACT, “The programs demonstrate the breadth of ACT’s R&D, including CO2 sequestration, Pulsating Heat Pipes (PHPs), very high-temperature thermal storage, cryogenic Loop Heat Pipes, and electronics radiation shielding.”

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