Heat conduction through a metal cloth wick saturated with a fluid has been investigated. An apparatus used to measure thermal conductivity, in which the condition of wick packing geometry is carefully controlled, and the basic experimental procedure are described. Experimental results are presented and compared to a new mean-gap-conductance model based upon the wick geometry, and to the simple series model. The mean-gap-conductance model evaluates the effects of the mesh geometry, and with the addition of a correction term to account for three-dimensional effects and layer-to-layer contact, the effective conductivity can be accurately predicted. In addition, a correlation of the mean gap which directly includes three-dimensional and contact conductance effects is presented. The correlation predicts the data within 10 percent whereas the series model may be more than 40 percent in error. From a parametric study using the new model, theoretical limits on the maximum and minimum conductivity enhancement have been determined as a function of geometric parameters. The implications of the research on heat pipe wick design are discussed.

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