Porous sintered microstructures are critical to the functioning of passive heat transport devices such as heat pipes. The topology and microstructure of the porous wick play a crucial role in determining the thermal performance of such devices. Three sintered copper wick samples employed in commercial heat pipes are characterized in this work in terms of their thermal transport properties––porosity, effective thermal conductivity, permeability, and interfacial heat transfer coefficient. The commercially available samples of nearly identical porosities (61% open volume) are CT scanned at 5.5 lm resolution, and the resulting image stack is reconstructed to produce high-quality finite volume meshes representing the solid and interstitial pore regions, with a conformal mesh at the interface separating these two regions. The resulting mesh is then employed for numerical analysis of thermal transport through fluid-saturated porous sintered beds. Multiple realizations are employed for statistically averaging out the randomness exhibited by the samples under consideration. The effective thermal conductivity and permeability data are compared with analytical models developed for spherical particle beds. The dependence of effective thermal conductivity of sintered samples on the extent of sintering is quantified. The interfacial heat transfer coefficient is compared against a correlation from the literature based on experimental data obtained with spherical particle beds. A modified correlation is proposed to match the results obtained.


porous media, effective thermal conductivity, permeability, microtomography, sintered beds, heat pipes

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K. K. Bodla, J. Y. Murthy, and S. V. Garimella, “Direct Simulation of Thermal Transport through Sintered Wick Microstructures,” ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Vol 134, 012602, 2012.