Electrowave – ELECTROWetting heat pipes for cooling Applications in Electric Vehicles

Reference: UTAP-EXPL/CTE/0064/2017

Analysis of novel heat pipe technology for multiple, disruptive, energy-related applications is proposed by teams from IST and UT Austin.

Heat pipes are widely used passive devices to transport heat via phase change (evaporation followed by condensation) of the working fluid. However, the capacity of conventional heat pipes to transport high heat loads over long distances is very limited.

The co-PI at UT Austin (Prof. Bahadur) recently conceptualized an electrowetting heat pipe (EHP) to transport high heat loads (kilowatts) over long distances (meters). This patent pending technology can enable disruptive advancements in many energy applications related to transportation, power generation, data center cooling and thermal management.

The proposed work includes the analysis/development of new technology to enhance the performance of the EHP and an analysis of the benefits of an EHP for the thermal management of electric vehicles. The first task explores a novel concept for enhancing the performance of the evaporator of the heat pipe. The evaporator section of the heat pipe absorbs heat and determines the thermal performance to a significant extent. This task involves analysis and experiments and will be led UT Austin. The second task (led by IST) will develop a system level model of the EHP and utilize it to quantify the utility of EHPs for thermal management of electric vehicles.

Title ELECTROWetting heat pipes for cooling Applications in Electric Vehicle
Reference UTAP-EXPL/CTE/0064/2017
Scientific Area Nanotechnologies
Funding 98 475,00€
Leading Institution Associação do Instituto Superior Técnico para a Investigação e o Desenvolvimento (IST-ID)
Participating Institutions The University of Austin at Texas (UT Austin)
Duration 12 months
Begin date 1st December, 2018
Key Words Electrowetting, Heat pipes, Cooling applications, Electric vehicles

Project Team

Ana Moita

Principal Investigator in Portugal
Electrowave

Vaibhav Bahadur

Principal Investigator in Austin
Electrowave

Statements

"This project explores a new concept to enhance the performance of heat pipe evaporators using electrowetting voltages. The project will utilize electric fields to enable a change in the fundamental heat transfer mechanism in evaporators from evaporation-conduction to nucleate boiling. The electric field prevents dryout of the evaporator by preventing bubbles from merging and forming a thin film. Benchtop experiments will be conducted to demonstrate the possibility of electric-field enabled stable nucleate boiling on textured surfaces (which mimic the current heat pipe evaporators). One of the challenges in this effort is to separate the electrical circuitry required from dryout prevention and for resisting heating. Other challenges include quantification of dryout prevention, and implementation issues with electrical modulation of boiling."

Ana Moita

Principal Investigator in Portugal

"This project will also quantify the technical benefits of this novel heat pipe in thermal management of electric vehicles. In the analyses, we will utilize the specifications of a thermal management system for electric vehicles and retrofit it with the novel heat pipe-based cooling solution. Sub-models to estimate the thermal resistance of various components will be developed and integrated to estimate the overall performance of this technology. Finally, energy analysis will allow estimating the potential increase in the vehicle performance and eventual energy savings due to the implementation of the cooling system."

Vaibhav Bahadur

Principal Investigator in Austin