Shape Memory and Superelasticity

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 232–241 | Cite as

Development and Testing of a Shape Memory Alloy-Driven Composite Morphing Radiator

  • P. Walgren
  • C. Bertagne
  • M. Wescott
  • O. Benafan
  • L. Erickson
  • J. Whitcomb
  • D. Hartl


Future crewed deep space missions will require thermal control systems that can accommodate larger fluctuations in temperature and heat rejection loads than current designs. To maintain the crew cabin at habitable temperatures throughout the entire mission profile, radiators will be required to exhibit turndown ratios (defined as the ratio between the maximum and minimum heat rejection rates) as high as 12:1. Potential solutions to increase radiator turndown ratios include designs that vary the heat rejection rate by changing shape, hence changing the rate of radiation to space. Shape memory alloys exhibit thermally driven phase transformations and thus can be used for both the control and actuation of such a morphing radiator with a single active structural component that transduces thermal energy into motion. This work focuses on designing a high-performance composite radiator panel and investigating the behavior of various SMA actuators in this application. Three designs were fabricated and subsequently tested in a relevant thermal vacuum environment; all three exhibited repeatable morphing behavior, and it is shown through validated computational analysis that the morphing radiator concept can achieve a turndown ratio of 27:1 with a number of simple configuration changes.


Mechanical behavior SMA Thermal cycling 



This work was supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF) under Grant NNX14AM44H and by the Johnson Space Center Independent Research and Development Program. Finite element analysis was conducted using a research license for Abaqus granted by Simulia. SMA procurement and processing was provided by Fort Wayne Metals and Johnson-Matthey. The authors acknowledge Thomas Cognata (Paragon Space Development Corporation) for the initial conceptual discussions, Scott McQuien for developing the framework of the composite design tool, Dr. Mohammad Naraghi and Dr. Ibrahim Karaman (TAMU) for use of their composites lab facilities. The authors also acknowledge James Brown, Tobin Barnes, and Peter Grenfell (NASA JSC, Innovation Design Center) for fabricating the terminal blocks.


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Copyright information

© ASM International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Walgren
    • 1
  • C. Bertagne
    • 1
  • M. Wescott
    • 1
  • O. Benafan
    • 2
  • L. Erickson
    • 3
  • J. Whitcomb
    • 1
  • D. Hartl
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.NASA Glenn Research CenterClevelandUSA
  3. 3.NASA Johnson Space Center, Crew and Thermal Systems DivisionHoustonUSA

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