P19129: Mechanical Heat Switch


Project Summary Project Information

Project Summary

Mechanical heat switches are devices used to assist in the cooling of test equipment in adiabatic demagnetization refrigerators (ADRs). They provide a physical pathway for heat to be conducted between a salt pill and a thermal sink. In this case, the thermal sink is liquid nitrogen or liquid helium. The salt pill is surrounded by an electromagnet. When powered on, the electromagnet aligns the molecules within the salt pill, forcing them to release energy. During this process, the heat switch is activated, and acts as a thermal bridge. The released heat from the salt pill flows through the switch and into the sink. The switch is then deactivated, severing the thermal connection, and the electromagnet is powered off. As the salt pillís molecules fall back into misalignment, they absorb heat from their surroundings, cooling the system. The switch and electromagnet are then re-engaged, and more heat is drawn into the sink. This process continues until the system reaches the desired temperature.

Our project is to take an existing heat switch design, and miniaturize it for use in a smaller system, while still maintaining robustness, and the ability to conduct enough heat to effectively aid in the cooling of the system.

Project Name
Mechanical Heat Switch for Deep Cryogenic Applications
Project Number
Project Family
Aerospace Systems and Technology
Start Term
2181 - Fall 2018
End Term
2185 - Spring 2019
Faculty Guide
Marty Pepe
Primary Customer & Financial Support
Michael Zemcov, https://www.rit.edu/science/zemcov
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Team Members

From left to right, top to bottom: Roberto, Marty (guide), Jake, Anant, Megan, Eric, Chi (Grad Assistant), Paul, Mike (customer)

From left to right, top to bottom: Roberto, Marty (guide), Jake, Anant, Megan, Eric, Chi (Grad Assistant), Paul, Mike (customer)

Member Major Role Contact
Jake Watts-St. Germain ME Engineer & Team Lead jpw2311@rit.edu
Paul Giovannetti ME Engineer & Purchasing pjg7286@rit.edu
Megan McKendry ME Engineer & Documentation mlm6679@rit.edu
Eric Cooper ME Engineer & Manufacturing ewc1730@rit.edu
Anant Mehrotra EE Lead Electrical Engineer axm8734@rit.edu
Roberto Rico Bernal EE Test Stand Engineer rxr8886@rit.edu

Work Breakdown: By Phase


Planning & Execution

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Preliminary Detailed Design

Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep

Subsystem Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation

Work Breakdown: By Topic

Project Management Design Tools MSD Deliverables Documentation + Turnover


Customer Requirements

Engineering Requirements

Risk Management

Use Cases


Functional Decomposition

Morphological Chart

Technical Paper

Imagine RIT Poster

Lightning Talk Slide

Operations Manual

Future Work

Trouble Shooting Guide

Flight Ready Document

Manufacturing Processes

Parts List