A thermal management specialist discusses the cooling requirements unique to smart munitions.
How are the cooling requirements of smart ordnance unique?
For platforms such as the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), size, weight, and power (SWaP) are critical. Volume and weight are at a premium, and anything you can do to reduce these factors helps enable the ability to carry more fuel, which helps increase range. SWaP is important with aircraft and ground vehicles, as well, but is amplified with missile applications. It gets down to grams, not pounds and ounces. Volume is just as important. Even if thermal management hardware weighs little, you still have to fit it in a confined space, and packaging is tight, as you can imagine. We work to keep the size of products to an absolute minimum. Forces from shock, vibration, and especially gravity are big drivers in the design; our products must be robust.
How were engineers able to meet demands for a compact, cost-effective, "disposable" system?
Our Thermal Management Systems (TMS) organization is much more than SprayCool. Parker's acquisition of SprayCool in 2010 helped us broaden market awareness of our technology, but this JSM system is not a SprayCool solution like you see on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the Global Hawk or Triton, or other airborne and ground platforms.
JSM is a single-phase liquid design where we take fuel and pump it through a series of cold plates to cool (and even heat) the vehicle's electronics. We have other cold-plate solutions for ground mobile and shipboard applications as well as airborne uses, such as on the Boeing 787. We really want to be able to support any type of thermal management need that involves liquid, whether single-phase or two-phase solutions that include both liquid and vapor.
Is there a concern over reverse-engineering thermal-management technology on recovered missiles?
Reverse engineering is always a possibility with any product we deliver. However, customers usually take the lead on dealing with it, and to be honest, their systems are usually a lot more sensitive. For the JSM, our manufacturing techniques are just as important, and would be hard to reverse engineer.
What advice would you offer engineers wrestling with thermal-management issues?
Please don't wait to start thinking about your thermal management approach. To be able to deliver an efficient solution to a customer, it needs to be dealt with as a key part of the development process up front; don't just kick the can down the road.
The other thing I would add is: Don't be afraid of liquid. It is used all the time in military and aerospace applications. In fact, it is used every day in cars and in homes, and it is pretty darn reliable. Using liquids are a good way to reduce overall system SWaP compared to air, and there are lots of different fluids that are available and approaches to using them.
NAME: Dan Kinney
TITLE: Business Development Manager, Parker Aerospace, Thermal Management Systems
CO.: Parker Hannifin Corp.
ROLE: Combining products, services, and experience to help solve tough thermal management challenges