Analysis of a vertical flat heat pipe using potassium working fluid and a wick of compressed nickel foam
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnergies 2016, 9(3) 10.3390/en9030170
Heat at high temperatures, in this work 400–650 °C, can be recovered by use of cooling panels/heat pipes in the walls of aluminum electrolysis cells. For this application a flat vertical heat pipe for heat transfer from a unilateral heat source was analyzed theoretically and in the laboratory, with special emphasis on the performance of the wick. In this heat pipe a wick of compressed nickel foam covered only the evaporator surface, and potassium was used as the working fluid. The magnitudes of key thermal resistances were estimated analytically and compared. Operating temperatures and wick performance limits obtained experimentally were compared to predictions. Thermal deformation due to unilateral heat flux was analyzed by the use of COMSOL Multiphysics®. The consequences of hot spots at different locations on the wick were analyzed by use of a numerical 2D model. A vertical rectangular wick was shown to be most vulnerable to hot spots at the upper corners.