15 March 2018 Demonstration of a shape memory alloy torque tube-based morphing radiator
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Abstract
Long-distance crewed space exploration will require advanced thermal control systems (TCS) with the ability to handle a wide range of thermal loads. The ability of a TCS to adapt to the thermal environment is described by the turndown ratio. Developing radiators with high turndown ratios is critical for improving TCS technology. This paper describes a novel morphing radiator designed to achieve a high turndown ratio by varying its own radiative view factor and effective emissivity through the use of shape memory alloys (SMAs).

This radiator features two SMA torque tubes cantilevered to a rigid fixture. The working fluid is transported within the SMA tubes through an annular flow system. In a cold environment, radiator panels fixed to the free ends of the tubes are oriented vertically in a parallel-plate fashion, where the high-emissivity interior faces have restricted views to the environment and heat rejection is minimized. When the system heats up, the tubes actuate by twisting in opposing directions, bringing the panels to a horizontal position with the interior faces exposed to maximize heat rejection. When the system cools down, the tubes twist in reverse, restoring the panels to the vertical orientation where heat rejection is again minimized. This variable heat rejection system has the potential for achieving higher turndown ratios than those of current state-of-the-art systems. A benchtop prototype has been designed and tested to demonstrate actuation and to explore internal heat transfer effects. Prototype design, testing, and results are herein described.
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Jorge B. Chong, Patrick Walgren, Darren J. Hartl, "Demonstration of a shape memory alloy torque tube-based morphing radiator", Proc. SPIE 10595, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems XII, 105952I (15 March 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2300818; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2300818
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