Thermal control of a small satellite in low earth orbit using phase change materials-based thermal energy storage panel

Abdelrahman M. Elshaer, M. Kassab, Shinsuke Mori, A.A. Hawwash, A. M. A. Soliman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal control of small satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) is not easy due to the intermittent heating conditions. The satellites in LEO are sometimes present in the illumination zone and other times in the eclipse zone, which imposes difficulties keeping their temperatures within the safe range. The present study investigates a thermal energy storage panel (TESP) integrated with phase change materials (PCM) to control the temperatures of satellite subsystems. The TESP was made of aluminium with outer dimensions of 100 mm long, 71 mm wide, and 25 mm high. The PCMs used were organic-based materials, which were RT 12, RT 22, and RT 31. The TESP was tested under two thermal powers of 11 W and 14 W. These powers are typical of satellite subsystems. The finite volume method was adopted for thermal analysis of the TESP. The significance of this study is that it provides a detailed computational analysis of the TESP for microsatellites' temperature management under typical LEO conditions. The research outcomes show a significant advancement in the thermal managing performance of PCM-based TESP. RT 22 could reduce the highest temperature by 4.7 % and raise the lowest by 9.5 %. It was observed from the analysis that the PCM with intermediary melting temperature provided better thermal control efficiency. RT 12 reported a lower extreme temperature difference (ETD) and could decrease it by 63.9 % relative to the case with no PCM. At the same time, RT 22 reported an ETD of 23 min and could reduce it by 63 % relative to the case with no PCM at 14 W. The present study concluded that PCMs show great potential as a viable approach for effectively thermally managing devices that experience cyclic thermal fluctuations, such as the subsystems of satellites operating in LEO.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)954–965
Number of pages12
JournalEgyptian Journal of Remote Sensing and Space Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


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