Compact, Lightweight, Non-Venting, Phase-Change Heat Exchanger

Period of Performance: 06/10/2016 - 12/09/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Creare, Inc.
16 Great Hollow Road Array
Hanover, NH 03755
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Future exploration spacecraft will need to operate in extreme thermal environments, with highly variable conditions for heat rejection by thermal radiation. Thermal storage is a critical technology for these missions, since it enables the spacecraft's thermal management system to be sized for average conditions instead of the least favorable. We propose a new technology for thermal storage based on an innovative, non-venting phase-change heat exchanger. Creare's technology overcomes some of the key limitations of phase-change heat exchanger technology. Our design maximizes the amount of phase-change material, eliminates large thermal resistances due to the poor thermal conductivity of the phase-change material, and accommodates differences in solid vs. liquid volume without a heavy structure. In Phase I we will prove the feasibility of this approach through thermal, fluid, and structural analysis; assessment of critical trade-offs; proof-of-concept demonstrations; and design of a prototype phase-change heat exchanger sized to meet requirements for future space exploration missions. In Phase II we will design, build, and demonstrate operation of the prototype phase-change heat exchanger.