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Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are replacing the Nickel–Hydrogen batteries used on the International Space Station (ISS). Knowing that LIB efficiency and survivability are greatly influenced by temperature, this study focuses on the thermo-electrochemical analysis of LIBs in space orbit. Current finite element modeling software allows for advanced simulation of the thermo-electrochemical processes; however the heat transfer simulation capabilities of said software suites do not allow for the extreme complexities of orbital-space environments like those experienced by the ISS.

Over the past 15 years, the industry standard tool for thermal analysis, SINDA, has been expanded to include advanced thermodynamic and hydrodynamic solutions (“FLUINT”). With the recent culmination of the unique modeling tools, SINDA/ FLUINT has arguably become the most complete general-purpose thermohydraulic network analyzer that is available.

Active cooling technologies such as heat pipes, loop heat pipes (LHPs), thermosyphons, loop thermosyphons (LTSs), and pumped single- or two-phase coolant loops require specialized modeling treatment. However, these 1D ducted systems are largely overlooked in 3D thermal modeling tools. The increasing popularity of CFD and FEM models and generation of analysis data from 3D CAD data are strong trends in the thermal analysis community, but most software answering such demands has not provided linear modeling elements appropriate for the simulation of heat pipes and coolant loops.

Despite recent advances in computer aided design (CAD) based tools, spacecraft thermal analysis remains outside the realm of finite element method (FEM) based analysis. The primary complaints against FEM often cited are:

Thermal engineering has long been left out of the concurrent engineering environment dominated by CAD (computer aided design) and FEM (finite element method) software.  Current tools attempt to force the thermal design process into an environment primarily created to support structural analysis, which results in inappropriate thermal models. As a result, many thermal engineers either build models “by hand” or use geometric user interfaces that are separate from and have little useful connection, if any, to CAD and FEM systems.