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How a Heat Pipe Works?

A heat pipe is a closed evaporator-condenser system consisting of a sealed, hollow tube whose inside walls are lined with a capillary structure or wick. Thermodynamic working fluid, with substantial vapor pressure at the desired operating temperature, saturates the pores of the wick in a state of equilibrium between liquid and vapor. When heat is applied to the heat pipe, the liquid in the wick heats and evaporates. As the evaporating fluid fills the heat pipe hollow center, it diffuses throughout its length. Condensation of the vapor occurs wherever the temperature is even slightly below that of the evaporation area. As it condenses, the vapor gives up the heat it acquired during evaporation. This effective high thermal conductance helps maintain near constant temperatures along the entire length of the pipe.

Attaching a heat sink to a portion of the heat pipe makes condensation take place at this point of heat transfer and establishes a vapor flow pattern. Capillary action within the wick returns the condensate to the evaporator (heat source) and completes the operating cycle. This system, proven in aerospace applications, transmits thermal energy at rates hundred of times greater and with a far superior energy-to-weight ratio than can be gained from the most efficient solid conductor.