Levich Institute Seminar Announcement, 03/01/2011
Tuesday, 03/01/2011
2:00 PM
Steinman Hall, Room #312
(Chemical Engineering Conference Room)

Professor Joel Plawsky
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Chemical & Biological Engineering Department
"The CVB Heat Pipe - on Earth and in Space"


The Constrained Vapor Bubble (CVB) is a prototype for a wickless heat pipe and this experiment was run in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station as part of the Increment 23-24 that ended in September 2010. Since the CVB is transparent, we can visualize the flow processes within the device in a way not possible before. Data collected from the experiment will help understand fundamental science problems in boiling, evaporation, condensation, adsorption, and evaporative self-assembly as well as help to answer the question of whether these types of capillary driven phase-chage heat transfer systems operate better in microgravity or on Earth. In this talk, I will present preliminary results that outline the significant differences between the operation of the CVB heat pipe in the micro-gravity environment as compared to its operation in Earth's gravity. The temperature profile data along the heat pipe indicate that its performance is enhanced in the microgravity environment due to increased capillary flow and simultaneously diminished by the absence of natural convection as an external heat loss mechanism. Image data of the liquid profile in the grooves of the heat pipe indicate that the curvature gradient is considerably different from that on Earth and supports the conclusion that capillary flow and internal heat transfer is increased. In the microgravity environment, the CVB may also be useful as a separation device to produce ultrapure fluids.


  • BSChE U. Michigan
  • ScD MIT
  • Corning, Inc 1986-1989
  • RPI 1989 - Present


Change-of-Phase Heat and Mass Transfer, Nanoporous Materials for Electronic and Photonic Applications, Dielectric Breakdown, Biofilm Formation and Control