High-Performance Leading Edge Heat Pipes, Phase II

Period of Performance: 05/12/2006 - 05/12/2008


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

12173 Montague Street Array
Pacoima, CA 91331
Principal Investigator


Aerothermal heating on the nose tip and leading edges of the Falcon hypersonic vehicle will create stagnation point temperatures that are beyond the limits of most materials. Furthermore, because Falcon has the requirement of being reusable, the challenges are even greater. Heat pipes offer a solution to this problem by providing a high thermal conductivity path for transferring heat from the hot leading edges to cooler areas of the vehicle where it can be radiated away. In Phase I, Ultramet designed and fabricated several low-cost lithium heat pipes using novel fabrication and wick concepts. One of the heat pipes was tested, and it was highly successful. Although not tested at maximum capacity, the measured performance data matched model predictions quite closely. In Phase II, Ultramet will characterize the two novel wick architectures in greater detail, determine which of the two heat pipe fabrication techniques is better suited to use in a leading edge, and select the best wick and fabrication processes for use in an actual leading edge. A detailed design will be developed for the heat pipe-cooled leading edge, and a demonstrator article will be built and tested. Lockheed Martin will provide input on the performance requirements for the leading edge and assist in the overall design effort; Advanced Cooling Technologies will provide assistance in the manufacture of the heat pipes and engineering support for their integration into the leading edge; and NovaTech will perform the detailed design of the heat pipe-cooled leading edge.