A Passive, Adaptive and Autonomous Gas Gap Heat Switch

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We report on the development of a heat switch for autonomous temperature control of electronic components in a satellite. A heat switch can modulate when needed between roles of a good thermal conductor and a good thermal insulator. Electronic boxes on a satellite should be maintained within a typical optimum temperature range of 260 to 310 K. The heat sinking is usually by means of a radiator. When the operating temperature of the electronic box increases beyond 310 K, a good contact to the radiator is desired for maximum cooling. On the other hand, when the satellite is in a cold dormant state, the electronics box should be heated by the onboard batteries. In this state a weak thermal contact is desired between the electronic box and the heat sink. In the present study, we are developing a gas gap heat switch in which the sorber material is thermally anchored to the electronic box. A temperature change of the electronic box triggers the (de-)sorption of gas from the sorber material and subsequently the gas pressure in the gas gap. This paper describes the physical principles and the current status of this technology. This approach can be extended to cryogenic temperature range
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1206-1211
Number of pages6
JournalPhysics procedia
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • IR-97445
  • METIS-312026


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