Space Ring

Space Ring


Member profile details

Membership level
2013-2014 Team
Team Name
Space Ring
Project Title
Space Ring
Design Challenge
The International Space Station currently utilizes a closed loop heat pipe system with water and ammonia in order to remove heat from the electronics and equipment on board. In this system, heated water interfaces with ammonia, which transports the heat to outside radiators. Thus, the rejected heat is currently being wasted. We propose to design a cooling system that will allow some of the rejected heat to be converted into electrical energy to supply the space station.
Design Summary
Due to the large-scale waste of the excess heat transferred via the heat exchanger, the focus of our project is to develop a system that will retain the heat transfer properties of the current cooling system while utilizing a portion of the waste heat to generate power. To accomplish this, we are utilizing thermoelectric generators, which convert heat into electrical energy via temperature differentials. While the efficiency of thermoelectric generators is low, they have high reliability because they contain no moving parts.
Our design consists of a counter-flow heat exchanger with thermoelectric generators between the hot and cold fluid loops in order to take advantage of the temperature differences from the electronic heat sources and the cooled radiator. The major validation criterion for our design is the ability to control the heat exchanger, specifically its power generation component. The thermoelectric generators act as thermal resistors in the heat exchanger, thus reducing the heat transfer capabilities, so we must ensure that this reduction has a minimal impact.
This design will be implemented as part of the NASA X-Hab 2014 Challenge. Furthermore, one the main merits of this design is that it can be retrofitted into existing active cooling systems on other spacecraft, as only the heat exchanger portion would have to be fitted to include the thermoelectric generators. In the remaining sections of Part 1 of this report, we will introduce our approach and process in selecting a design for the cooling and waste heat recycling system. In Part 2, we will provide a detailed description of the final design of the system including CAD models and circuit schematics. In Part 3, we conclude with results that we obtained from our implemented prototype of our final design along with recommendations for future work.
Sponsor Logo
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisor(s)

Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Gary Woods
Faculty Advisor 1 - Department
  • ECE



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Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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