Heat Pipes Development, Qualification and Industrialisation

EHP has completed its major TELECOM ARTES 4.0 project with ESA funds.

Objectives

The 3 mains goals of this ESA & EHP co-funded project are:

  • Achieve a major increase in terms of EHP heat pipes production capacity 
  • Achieve a major decrease in terms of EHP heat pipes production cost
  • Develop & qualify a new heat pipe product (AG128) for OneWeb project

Challenges

Although heat pipes are well-known products at EHP since decades, its industrialisation (reliable and stable production of large volumes) remained undeveloped.

Improvement of manufacturing processes efficiency and beat rates were challenges.

heat pipe marking with 2D barcode
Example of EHP heat pipe with its marking

Benefits

Thanks to the increase of production during the last years, EHP is in a very good situation to propose products with a demonstrated reliability, produced within an existing production line, whose capacity has been demonstrated.

Features

Heat pipes allow to transport a significant amount of heat (typically 100 Watts) over a significant length (typically a few meters), within a negligible thermal gradient (typically a few degrees); which is thousands of times more efficient than thermal straps. 

Example of a heat pipe batch during manufacturing

They are also very reliable as they have no moving parts, which is key for space industry.

Example of heat pipe during machining at EHP
Example of heat pipe during machining

System Architecture

Heat pipes are used at spacecraft level for their thermal control. They are mounted on panels or embedded into panels.Plan

Plan

Several phases of industrialization were defined and deployed within EHP workshop in order to implement gradually the updates.Current status

Current Status

Project is successfully completed.

This huge increase of the EHP deliveries transformed EHP into a major worldwide space heat pipes manufacturer.

This also permitted EHP:

  • To extend its marketshare in traditional sectors (European SatCom)
  • To reach new markets (US satellite manufacturers)

From a socio-economic point of view, deployed production line creates 11 full-time jobs at EHP (+ indirect jobs e.g. subco level)

Beyond the scope of this ESA project

Over the years, EHP has grown from a small 600m² facility to working areas spread over 3 buildings for a total of 4500m².
This is not enough for the activities forecasted in the next years With the major OneSat project arriving, and with our heat pipe production continuing to grow, EHP needs much more space.

In 2019, the idea of a new modern building was put on the table. Two years later, in May 2021, the work of a brand new 10 000m² facility has begun

New infrastructure consists of 8000m² of industrial areas, including a 2000m² clean room for the assembly of our thermal and deployable systems. Additionally, it includes a nice 2000m² office building that will offer a well-being working environment to all of us.

The first part of the project, the industrial hall and half of the clean room, are to be delivered in the beginning of 2022. The offices and the rest of the clean room are to be available 6 months later, and the final industrial areas for machining and logistics in the beginning of 2023.

Source :https://artes.esa.int/projects/heat-pipes-development-qualification-and-industrialisation