A lithium-based cooling system able to operate at temperatures up to 1,100˚C (1,980˚F) has been developed for Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) by Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Advanced Cooling Technologies (ACT). Work began in early 2004 to produce the cooling system in the form of a hollow full-scale modular wing section.
Within the hollow section is a capillary wick structure. This and the hollow wing are made of the same super-alloy, which the company will not identify. The lithium is held, in a metal state, within the wick capillaries, and melts as it absorbs the heat. This process enables the wing to dissipate the heat through radiation and convection.
“The thinking behind it is technology for a vehicle that is re-entering the atmosphere, a vehicle that is like the Shuttle,” says Peter Dussinger, high-temperature programmes and products manager for ACT.
Source: Flight International