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Variable conductance heat pipe
A Variable Conductance Heat Pipe (VCHP) is an active thermal control device used in some applications where there is a need to reduce (controlled conductance) or to block (OFF mode) the thermal conductance during some operational modes of the spacecraft.

The heat pipe conductance in a VCHP is reduced or blocked by the introduction of a certain amount of non-condensable gas in the condensing section of the heat pipe.

ESA initiated the development of such a heat pipe in the late 1970s.

Besides several application for dedicated instruments (such as TELE-X), the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) makes extensive use of such devices to thermally control the Avionics Bay.  
Last update: 27 March 2007


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