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Josiana Prado Afonso

Towards cryogenic liquid – Vapor energy storage units for space applications

Published on 7 June 2013
Thesis presented June 07, 2013

With the development of mechanical coolers and very sensible cryogenic sensors, it could be interesting to use Energy Storage Units (ESU) and turn off the cryocooler to operate in a free micro vibration environment. An ESU would also avoid cryogenic systems oversized to attenuate temperature fluctuations due to thermal load variations which is useful particularly for space applications. In both cases, the temperature drift must remain limited to keep good detector performances. In this thesis, ESUs based on the high latent heat associated to liquid-vapor phase change to store energy have been studied. To limit temperature drifts while keeping small size cell at low temperature, a potential solution consists in splitting the ESU in two volumes: a low temperature cell coupled to a cryocooler cold finger through a thermal heat switch and an expansion volume at room temperature to reduce the temperature increase occurring during liquid evaporation. To obtain a vanishing temperature drift, a new improvement has been tested using two-phase nitrogen: a controlled valve was inserted between the two volumes in order to control the cold cell pressure. In addition, a porous material was used inside the cell to turn the ESU gravity independent and suitable for space applications. In this case, experiments reveal not fully understood results concerning both energy storage and liquid-wall temperature difference. To capture the thermal influence of the porous media, a dedicated cell with poorly conductive lateral wall was built and operated with two-phase helium. After its characterization outside the saturation conditions (conduction, convection), experiments were performed, with and without porous media, heating at the top or the bottom of the cell with various heat fluxes and for different saturation temperatures. In parallel, a model describing the thermal response for a cell containing liquid and vapor with a porous media heated at the top (“against gravity”) was developed. The experimental data were then used as a benchmark for this model based on a balance of three forces: capillarity force, gravity force and pressure drop induced by the liquid flow.

Cryogenics, Spatial application

On-line thesis.