Experimental and analytical study of a loop heat pipe at a positive elevation using neutron radiography

Po Ya Abel Chuang, John M. Cimbala, Jack S. Brenizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


An experimental and analytical study has been conducted of a loop heat pipe's steady state operating conditions at a positive elevation, which refers to when the condenser is higher than the evaporator. A unique trend of the steady state operating temperature as a function of evaporator heat load at a positive elevation was observed in the experimental data. A gravity-assisted operating theory was proposed and explained in detail. In addition, the proposed hypothesis was validated by neutron radiography, a non-destructive visualization tool. When the LHP is operated at a positive elevation, it can operate in the capillary-controlled mode, which means the system is driven by pressure gain from both surface tension and liquid head, or in the gravity-controlled mode, which means the system is driven only by the pressure gain from the liquid head. A pressure-temperature diagram illustrating the thermodynamic states of the circulating fluid was presented when the system is operating in a gravity-controlled mode. Experimental temperature data were presented for a loop heat pipe operating at 25.4, 76.2, and 127.0 mm positive elevations. Lastly, predicting results from an analytical model with the newly added features at a positive elevation were compared with the experimental results obtained at a 76.2 mm positive elevation. The model prediction and the experimental data agree well, which means the operating mechanisms were understood and captured in the model. This is the first study of a loop heat pipe focusing on a positive elevation, which unveils the unique temperature trend at low heat load operating conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-95
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Thermal Sciences
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Engineering


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