(19)
(11)EP 3 524 912 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
14.08.2019 Bulletin 2019/33

(21)Application number: 19154977.3

(22)Date of filing:  01.02.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F28D 15/04  (2006.01)
F28D 15/02  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 06.02.2018 JP 2018019487

(71)Applicant: Shinko Electric Industries Co., Ltd.
Nagano-shi, Nagano 381-2287 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • MACHIDA, Yoshihiro
    Nagano-shi, Nagano-ken 381-2287 (JP)

(74)Representative: Daub, Thomas 
Patent- und Rechtsanwaltskanzlei Daub Bahnhofstrasse 5
88662 Überlingen
88662 Überlingen (DE)

  


(54)LOOP HEAT PIPE


(57) A loop heat pipe (1) includes an evaporator (11), a condenser (13), a liquid pipe (14), and a vapor pipe (12). The liquid pipe (14) is formed a metal layer stack of metal layers (41-46). The metal layers (41-46) include a first metal layer (43,44) through which a first through hole (43X,44X) extends in a thickness-wise direction. The liquid pipe (1) includes a flow passage (14r) formed by at least the first through hole (43X,44X) and having four walls that define the flow passage (14r). The liquid pipe (1) further includes a plurality of porous bodies (14s, 43s,44s,42t,45t) that form at least two of the four walls of the flow passage (14r).




Description


[0001] This disclosure relates to a loop heat pipe.

[0002] A heat pipe is a device that uses phase transition of a working fluid to cool heat-generating components of a semiconductor device (e.g., central processing unit (CPU)) mounted on an electronic device.

[0003] Japanese Patent No. 6146484 discloses a loop heat pipe having a loop structure that connects an evaporator, a vapor pipe, a condenser, and a liquid pipe in series and encloses working fluid. The evaporator receives heat from a heat-generating component to change the working fluid from a liquid phase into a gaseous phase. The gaseous working fluid flows through the vapor pipe into the condenser. The condenser removes heat from the gaseous working fluid to condense the working fluid into a liquid phase. The liquid working fluid flows through the liquid pipe into the evaporator.

[0004] In a loop heat pipe, the working fluid may accumulate, for example, in the liquid pipe. For example, in a thermal cycle test that repeats solidification and expansion of working fluid in a loop heat pipe in a short time, an accumulation of the working liquid causes deformation (bulge) of the loop heat pipe. Such a deformed loop heat pipe is a defective. Thus, the accumulation of working fluid needs to be limited.

[0005] One embodiment of a loop heat pipe includes an evaporator that vaporizes working fluid, a condenser that liquefies the working fluid vaporized by the evaporator, a liquid pipe that connects the condenser to the evaporator and includes a flow passage configured to send the working fluid liquefied by the condenser to the evaporator, and a vapor pipe that connects the evaporator to the condenser to send the working fluid vaporized by the evaporator to the condenser. The liquid pipe is formed by a metal layer stack of a plurality of metal layers. The plurality of metal layers include a first metal layer through which a first through hole extends in a thickness-wise direction. The flow passage of the liquid pipe is formed by at least the first through hole and has four walls that define the flow passage. The liquid pipe further includes a plurality of porous bodies form at least two of the four walls of the flow passage.

[0006] Another embodiment of a loop heat pipe includes a metal layer stack of two outermost metal layers and a plurality of intermediate metal layers located between the two outermost metal layers. The metal layer stack includes an evaporator, a vapor pipe, a condenser, and a liquid pipe that are connected to form a loop. The liquid pipe includes one or more flow passages and a plurality of porous bodies. Each flow passage is formed as a single communication hole extending from the condenser to the evaporator along the liquid pipe. Each flow passage extends through at least one of the plurality of intermediate metal layers in a thickness-wise direction and has four walls that define the flow passage. The plurality of porous bodies are formed in at least two of the plurality of intermediate metal layers and arranged to form at least two of the four walls of each flow passage.

[0007] Other embodiments and advantages thereof will become apparent from the following description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, illustrating by way of example the principles of the invention.

[0008] It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are not restrictive of the invention, as claimed.

[0009] The embodiments, together with objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description of the presently preferred embodiments together with the accompanying drawings in which:

Fig. 1 is a schematic plan view of an example of a loop heat pipe;

Fig. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a liquid pipe taken along line 2-2 in Fig. 1;

Fig. 3 is a partially schematic plan view of the liquid pipe of Fig. 2 illustrating a metal layer including a porous body;

Fig. 4 is a schematic plan view of an uppermost metal layer of the loop heat pipe illustrated in Fig. 1;

Fig. 5 is a schematic plan view of an intermediate metal layer of the loop heat pipe illustrated in Fig. 1;

Fig. 6 is a schematic plan view of a lowermost metal layer of the loop heat pipe illustrated in Fig. 1;

Figs. 7A to 7E are schematic cross-sectional views illustrating the steps of manufacturing an intermediate metal layer;

Figs. 8A to 8E are schematic cross-sectional views illustrating the steps of manufacturing a lowermost metal layer;

Fig. 9A is a schematic cross-sectional view illustrating a modified example of a liquid pipe;

Fig. 9B is a partially schematic plan view of the liquid pipe of Fig. 9A illustrating a metal layer including a porous body;

Figs. 10A, 10B, 11A, 11B, 12A, 12B, and 13 are schematic plan views illustrating various modified examples of liquid pipes;

Figs. 14A and 14B are partially schematic plan views of metal layers including porous bodies according to various modified examples;

Fig. 15A is a partially schematic plan view of a metal layer including a porous body according to another modified example;

Fig. 15B is a cross-sectional view taken along line b-b in Fig. 15A; and

Figs. 16A and 16B are schematic cross-sectional views illustrating metal layers including bottomed holes according to various modified examples.



[0010] Various embodiments will be described below. Elements in the accompanying drawings may be enlarged for simplicity and clarity and thus have not necessarily been drawn to scale. To facilitate understanding, hatching lines (shadings) drawn in the plan views may not be illustrated in the cross-sectional views. In this specification, the "plan view" refers to a cross-sectional view of an object taken in the vertical direction (for example, vertical direction in Fig. 2), and the "planar shape" refers to a shape of an object in the plan view.

[0011] As illustrated in Fig. 1, a loop heat pipe 1 is accommodated, for example, in a mobile electronic device 2 such as a smartphone or a tablet terminal.

[0012] The loop heat pipe 1 includes an evaporator 11, a vapor pipe 12, a condenser 13, and a liquid pipe 14. The evaporator 11 functions to vaporize a working fluid C and generate a vapor Cv. The condenser 13 functions to liquefy the vapor Cv of the working fluid C. The vapor pipe 12 connects the evaporator 11 to the condenser 13 and sends the working fluid C that is vaporized by the evaporator 11 to the condenser 13. The liquid pipe 14 connects the condenser 13 to the evaporator 11 and sends the working fluid C that is liquefied by the condenser 13 to the evaporator 11. The evaporator 11 and the condenser 13 are connected by the vapor pipe 12 and the liquid pipe 14 to form a loop flow passage through which the working fluid C or the vapor Cv flows. In the present embodiment, the liquid pipe 14 and the vapor pipe 12 have, for example, the same length. However, the liquid pipe 14 and the vapor pipe 12 may have different lengths. For example, the vapor pipe 12 may be shorter than the liquid pipe 14.

[0013] The evaporator 11 is configured to be in tight contact with and fixed to a heat-generating component (not illustrated) mounted on the electronic device 2. The evaporator 11 uses heat generated by the heat-generating component to vaporize the working fluid C and generate the vapor Cv. Although not illustrated in the drawings, a thermal interface material (TIM) may be arranged between the evaporator 11 and the heat-generating component. The thermal interface material reduces thermal contact resistance between the heat-generating component and the evaporator 11 and smoothly transfers heat from the heat-generating component to the evaporator 11. The vapor Cv generated by the evaporator 11 is guided through the vapor pipe 12 to the condenser 13.

[0014] The condenser 13 includes a heat dissipation plate 13p having a large area for heat dissipation and a flow passage 13r meandering in the heat dissipation plate 13p. The flow passage 13r serves as part of the loop flow passage described above. The condenser 13 liquefies the vapor Cv that is drawn through the vapor pipe 12. The working fluid C liquefied by the condenser 13 is guided through the liquid pipe 14 to the evaporator 11.

[0015] The liquid pipe 14 includes two walls 14w located at opposite sides in the width-wise direction (vertical direction in Fig. 1), a porous body 14s, and two flow passages 14r extending between the porous body 14s and each of the walls 14w. The porous body 14s extends from the condenser 13 to the evaporator 11 along the liquid pipe 14. The porous body 14s produces capillary force and guides the working fluid C liquefied by the condenser 13 to the evaporator 11 with the capillary force. The flow passages 14r serve as part of the loop flow passage described above. The flow passages 14r enhance smooth flow of the working fluid C through the liquid pipe 14 to the evaporator 11. The evaporator 11 also includes a porous body 11s.

[0016] The loop heat pipe 1 transfers heat generated by the heat-generating component from the evaporator 11 to the condenser 13 and dissipates the heat in the condenser 13. The loop heat pipe 1 cools the heat-generating component through the circulation of the working fluid C.

[0017] Preferably, a fluid having a high vapor pressure and a large latent heat of evaporation is used as the working fluid C. The use of such a working fluid C efficiently cools the heat-generating component with the latent heat of vaporization. Examples of the working fluid C include ammonia, water, chlorofluorocarbon, alcohol, and acetone.

[0018] Fig. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the liquid pipe 14 taken along line 2-2 in Fig. 1. The liquid pipe 14 includes a metal layer stack of a plurality of (six, in the present example) metal layers 41 to 46. In the description hereafter, the metal layer 41 may be referred to as the outermost metal layer 41 (or uppermost metal layer 41). The metal layer 46 may be referred to as the outermost metal layer 46 (or lowermost metal layer 46). The metal layers 42 to 45 may be referred to as the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45. When there is no need to distinguish the outermost metal layer from the intermediate metal layers, these metal layers may simply be referred to as the metal layers 41 to 46. The metal layers 41 to 46 are each, for example, a copper layer having a superior thermal conductivity and are directly connected to each other through solid-phase bonding or the like. To facilitate understanding, the metal layers 41 to 46 are separated by the solid lines in Fig. 2. However, for example, when the metal layers 41 to 46 are unified through diffusion bonding, the interfaces of the metal layers 41 to 46 may have been eliminated, and the boundaries of the metal layers 41 to 46 may not be clear.

[0019] The metal layers 41 to 46 are not limited to copper layers and may be, for example, stainless steel layers, aluminum layers, or magnesium alloy layers. One or more of the metal layers 41 to 46 may be formed from a material different from that of the remaining metal layers. The thickness of each of the metal layers 41 to 46 may be, for example, approximately 50 µm to 200 µm. One or more of the metal layers 41 to 46 may differ in thickness from the remaining metal layers. Further, all of the metal layers may differ in thickness from each other.

[0020] As illustrated in Fig. 1, the evaporator 11, the vapor pipe 12, and the condenser 13 include a metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 in the same manner as the liquid pipe 14 illustrated in Fig. 2. That is, the loop heat pipe 1 illustrated in Fig. 1 includes the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46. The number of stacked metal layers is not limited to six and may be five or less or seven or more.

[0021] As illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2, the liquid pipe 14 is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t, and the two flow passages 14r.

[0022] As illustrated in Fig. 2, the porous body 14s includes porous bodies 43s and 44s formed in the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44 of the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46. Each of the flow passages 14r includes through holes 43X and 44X respectively extending through the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44 in the thickness-wise direction. In the present embodiment, the outermost metal layers 41 and 46 are free from holes and grooves.

[0023] The intermediate metal layer 43 includes two through holes 43X extending through in the thickness-wise direction, two walls 43w located at an outer side of the through holes 43X, and a porous body 43s located between the two through holes 43X. In the same manner, the intermediate metal layer 44 includes two through holes 44X extending through in the thickness-wise direction, two walls 44w located at an outer side of the through holes 44X, and a porous body 44s located between the two through holes 44X.

[0024] The intermediate metal layers 43 and 44 are stacked so that the through holes 43X and 44X overlap with each other in a plan view.

[0025] The intermediate metal layer 42 is stacked on the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 43, and the intermediate metal layer 45 is stacked on the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 44. The intermediate metal layers 43 and 44, which include the through holes 43X and 44X, and the intermediate metal layers 42 and 45, which are stacked on the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44, define the two flow passages 14r. Each flow passage 14r is surrounded by the walls 43w and 44w, the porous bodies 43s and 44s, and the intermediate metal layers 42 and 45. The walls 43w and 44w define one of the two side walls of each flow passage 14r, and the porous bodies 43s and 44s define the other side wall of the flow passage 14r. The intermediate metal layer 42 defines the upper wall (ceiling) of the flow passage 14r, and the intermediate metal layer 45 defines the lower wall (bottom) of the flow passage 14r.

[0026] As illustrated in Fig. 2, the porous body 43s includes bottomed holes 43u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 43 to a central portion of the metal layer 43 in the thickness-wise direction and bottomed holes 43d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 43 to a central portion of the metal layer 43 in the thickness-wise direction. As illustrated in Fig. 3, the bottomed holes 43u and 43d are circular in a plan view and may have a diameter of 100 µm to 400 µm. However, the bottomed holes 43u and 43d may have any planar shape and may be, for example, elliptical or polygonal. Each bottomed hole 43u may be defined by a tapered side wall that reduces in size from the upper surface toward the central portion of the intermediate metal layer 43. Also, each bottomed hole 43d may be defined by a tapered side wall that reduces in size from the lower surface to the central portion of the intermediate metal layer 43.

[0027] As illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3, the bottomed holes 43u and 43d partially overlap with each other in a plan view. The overlapped portions form fine pores 43z connecting the bottomed holes 43u and 43d to each other. Fig. 3 illustrates one example of arrangement of the bottomed holes 43u and 43d. The bottomed holes 43u and 43d may be arranged in any manner to form partially overlapped portions (fine pores 43z). The porous body 43s including the bottomed holes 43u and 43d and the fine pores 43z is configured to be part of the porous body 14s. Although not illustrated in Fig. 2, each of the through holes 43X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 43u and 43d. For example, each of the through holes 43X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 43u and 43d via a portion of the side surface of the porous body 43s adjacent to the through hole 43X. The walls 43w of the intermediate metal layer 43 are free from holes and grooves.

[0028] In the same manner as the porous body 43s, the porous body 44s includes bottomed holes 44u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 44 to a central portion of the metal layer 44 in the thickness-wise direction and bottomed holes 44d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 44 to a central portion of the metal layer 44 in the thickness-wise direction. The bottomed holes 44u and 44d may have the same shape as the bottomed holes 43u and 43d of the porous body 43s and may be, for example, circular in a plan view. The bottomed holes 44u and 44d partially overlap with each other in a plan view. The overlapped portions form fine pores 44z connecting the bottomed holes 44u and 44d to each other. The porous body 44s including the bottomed holes 44u and 44d and the fine pores 44z is configured to be part of the porous body 14s. Although not illustrated in Fig. 2, each of the through holes 44X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 44u and 44d. For example, each of the through holes 44X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 44u and 44d via a portion of the side surface of the porous body 44s adjacent to the through hole 44X. The walls 44w of the intermediate metal layer 44 are free from holes and grooves.

[0029] The intermediate metal layer 42 includes porous bodies 42t immediately above the flow passages 14r. The porous bodies 42t extend along the respective flow passages 14r. Each porous body 42t defines the upper wall (ceiling) of the corresponding one of the flow passages 14r. The porous body 42t includes bottomed holes 42u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 42 to a central portion of the metal layer 42 in the thickness-wise direction and bottomed holes 42d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 42 to a central portion of the metal layer 42 in the thickness-wise direction. The bottomed holes 42u and 42d may have the same shape as the bottomed holes 43u and 43d of the porous body 43s and may be, for example, circular in a plan view. The bottomed holes 42u and 42d partially overlap with each other in a plan view. The overlapped portions form fine pores 42z connecting the bottomed holes 42u and 42d to each other. The fine pores 42z may have the same shape as the fine pores 43z of the porous body 43s. The intermediate metal layer 42 includes walls 42w located at an outer side of the porous bodies 42t. The walls 42w are free from holes and grooves. The intermediate metal layer 42 further includes an intermediate portion 42a located between the two porous bodies 42t. The intermediate portion 42a is also free from holes and grooves.

[0030] The intermediate metal layer 45 includes porous bodies 45t immediately below the flow passages 14r. The porous bodies 45t extend along the respective flow passages 14r. Each porous body 45t defines the lower wall (bottom) of the corresponding one of the flow passages 14r. The porous body 45t includes bottomed holes 45u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 45 to a central portion of the metal layer 45 in the thickness-wise direction and bottomed holes 45d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 45 to a central portion of the metal layer 45 in the thickness-wise direction. The bottomed holes 45u and 45d may have the same shape as the bottomed holes 43u and 43d of the porous body 43s and may be, for example, circular in a plan view. The bottomed holes 45u and 45d partially overlap with each other. The overlapped portions form fine pores 45z connecting the bottomed holes 45u and 45d to each other. The fine pores 45z may have the same shape as the fine pores 43z of the porous body 43s. The intermediate metal layer 45 includes walls 45w located at an outer side of the porous bodies 45t. The walls 45w are free from holes and grooves. The intermediate metal layer 45 further includes an intermediate portion 45a located between the two porous bodies 45t. The intermediate portion 45a is also free from holes and grooves.

[0031] As described above, each of the flow passages 14r in the liquid pipe 14 is surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (43s, 44s), 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w (43w, 44w). In other words, the upper wall, the lower wall, and one of the side walls of each flow passage 14r are respectively defined by the porous bodies 42t, 45t, and 14s (43s, 44s), and the other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w.

[0032] The porous bodies 42t of the intermediate metal layer 42 are in contact with the flow passages 14r, and the bottomed holes 42d of the intermediate metal layer 42 are in communication with the through holes 43X of the intermediate metal layer 43. The porous bodies 45t of the intermediate metal layer 45 are in contact with the flow passages 14r, and the bottomed holes 45u of the intermediate metal layer 45 are in communication with the through holes 44X of the intermediate metal layer 44. The porous body 43s of the intermediate metal layer 43 is in contact with the flow passages 14r, and each of the through holes 43X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 43u and 43d of the intermediate metal layer 43. The porous body 44s of the intermediate metal layer 44 is in contact with the flow passages 14r, and each of the through holes 44X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 44u and 44d of the intermediate metal layer 44.

[0033] In the structure of the liquid pipe 14 illustrated in Fig. 2, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t extend from the condenser 13 to the evaporator 11 along the liquid pipe 14. The porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t produce capillary force and guide the working fluid C liquefied by the condenser 13 to the evaporator 11 with the capillary force. The flow passages 14r enhance smooth flow of the working fluid C in the liquid pipe 14 to the evaporator 11 through the liquid pipe 14.

[0034] As illustrated in Fig. 2, the flow passages 14r are surrounded by the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w. The capillary force of the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t surrounding each flow passage 14r causes the working fluid C flowing in the flow passage 14r to readily disperse to the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t. This limits accumulation of the working fluid C in the flow passages 14r. Thus, when a thermal cycle test is performed on the loop heat pipe 1, increase in the volume of the working fluid C, which results from the freezing of the accumulated working fluid C at a low temperature, and increase in the volume of the vapor Cv, which occurs at a high temperature, are limited. As a result, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14 are limited.

[0035] The method for manufacturing the loop heat pipe 1 will now be described.

[0036] Figs. 4 to 6 are plan views of metal layers used to manufacture the loop heat pipe 1. Fig. 4 is a plan view of a metal layer 61 used as the outermost metal layers 41 and 46 (uppermost metal layer and lowermost metal layer) of the loop heat pipe 1 (refer to Fig. 2).

[0037] Fig. 5 is a plan view of a metal layer 62 used as the intermediate metal layers 42 and 45 including the porous bodies 42t and 45t (refer to Fig. 2). Fig. 6 is a plan view of a metal layer 63 used as the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44 including the porous body 14s (43s, 44s) and the flow passages 14r (refer to Fig. 2).

[0038] The metal layers 61 to 63 illustrated in Figs. 4 to 6 are formed, for example, patterning a copper layer having a thickness of 100 µm in a given shape through wet etching. As illustrated in Fig. 4, the metal layer 61 is a solid metal layer that is free from holes and grooves.

[0039] As illustrated in Fig. 5, the metal layer 62 includes an opening 62Y corresponding to the shape of the loop flow passage (refer to Fig. 1) formed by the evaporator 11, the vapor pipe 12, the condenser 13, and the liquid pipe 14. The metal layer 62 includes porous portions 62t corresponding to the porous bodies 42t and 45t (refer to Fig. 2). Although not illustrated in Fig. 5 in detail, the porous portions 62t include the bottomed holes 42u, 42d, 45u, and 45d of the porous bodies 42t and 45t (refer to Fig. 2).

[0040] As illustrated in Fig. 6, the metal layer 63 includes an opening 63Y corresponding to the shape of the loop flow passage (refer to Fig. 1) formed by the evaporator 11, the vapor pipe 12, the condenser 13, and the liquid pipe 14. The metal layer 63 further includes through holes 63X at positions corresponding to the through holes 43X and 44X of the liquid pipe 14 (refer to Fig. 2). The metal layer 63 further includes a porous portion 63s corresponding to the porous bodies 43s and 44s (refer to Fig. 2). Although not illustrated in Fig. 6 in detail, the porous portion 63s includes the bottomed holes 43u, 43d, 44u, and 44d of the porous bodies 43s and 44s (refer to Fig. 2).

[0041] The method for forming the bottomed holes 42u, 42d, 45u, and 45d of the porous bodies 42t and 45t will now be described.

[0042] Figs. 7A to 7E are cross-sectional views illustrating the steps of forming a portion of the metal layer 62 (here, intermediate metal layer 42) illustrated in Fig. 5 corresponding to the liquid pipe 14.

[0043] In the step illustrated in Fig. 7A, a flat metal sheet 80 is prepared. The metal sheet 80 is a member that is ultimately used as the intermediate metal layer 42 and may be formed from, for example, copper, stainless steel, aluminum, or a magnesium alloy. The thickness of the metal sheet 80 may be, for example, approximately 50 µm to 200 µm.

[0044] In the step illustrated in Fig. 7B, a resist layer 81 is formed on the upper surface of the metal sheet 80, and a resist layer 82 is formed on the lower surface of the metal sheet 80. The resist layers 81 and 82 may be, for example, a photosensitive dry film resist.

[0045] In the step illustrated in Fig. 7C, the resist layer 81 is exposed and developed to form openings 81X selectively exposing the upper surface of the metal sheet 80. The openings 81X are formed in conformance with the shapes and positions of the bottomed holes 42u illustrated in Fig. 2. In the same manner, the resist layer 82 is exposed and developed to form openings 82X selectively exposing the lower surface of the metal sheet 80. The openings 82X are formed in conformance with the shapes and positions of the bottomed holes 42d illustrated in Fig. 2.

[0046] In the step illustrated in Fig. 7D, the metal sheet 80 exposed in the openings 81X is etched from the upper surface side, and the metal sheet 80 exposed in the openings 82X is etched from the lower surface side. As a result, the bottomed holes 42u are formed in the upper surface of the metal sheet 80, and the bottomed holes 42d are formed in the lower surface of the metal sheet 80. The bottomed holes 42u and 42d partially overlap with each other in a plan view. The overlapped portions form the fine pores 42z connecting the bottomed holes 42u and 42d to each other. For example, a ferric chloride solution may be used to etch the metal sheet 80.

[0047] In the step illustrated in Fig. 7E, the resist layers 81 and 82 are removed using a stripping solution. The steps described above obtain the metal layer 62 that is illustrated in Fig. 5 and used as the intermediate metal layer 42 illustrated in Fig. 2. The metal layer 62 that is used as the intermediate metal layer 45 illustrated in Fig. 2 is also formed through the same steps as the steps illustrated in Figs. 7A to 7E.

[0048] The method for forming the bottomed holes 43u, 43d, 44u, and 44d of the porous body 14s (43s, 44s) and the flow passages 14r (through holes 43X and 44X) will now be described.

[0049] Figs. 8A to 8E are cross-sectional views illustrating the steps of forming a portion of the metal layer 63 (here, intermediate metal layer 43) illustrated in Fig. 6 corresponding to the liquid pipe 14.

[0050] In the step illustrated in Fig. 8A, a flat metal sheet 90 is prepared. The metal sheet 90 is a member that is ultimately used as the intermediate metal layer 43 and may be formed from, for example, copper, stainless steel, aluminum, or a magnesium alloy. The thickness of the metal sheet 90 may be, for example, approximately 50 µm to 200 µm.

[0051] In the step illustrated in Fig. 8B, a resist layer 91 is formed on the upper surface of the metal sheet 90, and a resist layer 92 is formed on the lower surface of the metal sheet 90. The resist layers 91 and 92 may be, for example, a photosensitive dry film resist.

[0052] In the step illustrated in Fig. 8C, the resist layer 91 is exposed and developed to form openings 91X and 91Y selectively exposing the upper surface of the metal sheet 90. In the same manner, the resist layer 92 is exposed and developed to form openings 92X and 92Y selectively exposing the lower surface of the metal sheet 90. The openings 91X and 92X are formed in conformance with the shapes and positions corresponding to the bottomed holes 43u and 43d illustrated in Fig. 2. The openings 91Y and 92Y are formed in conformance with the shapes and positions corresponding to the through holes 43X illustrated in Fig. 2.

[0053] In the step illustrated in Fig. 8D, the metal sheet 90 exposed in the openings 91X and 91Y is etched from the upper surface side, and the metal sheet 90 exposed in the openings 92X and 92Y is etched from the lower surface side. As a result, the bottomed holes 43u are formed in the upper surface of the metal sheet 90 at the positions of the openings 91X, and the bottomed holes 43d are formed in the lower surface of the metal sheet 90 at the positions of the openings 92X. The bottomed holes 43u and 43d partially overlap with each other. The overlapped portions form the fine pores 43z connecting the bottomed holes 43u and 43d to each other. The through holes 43X are formed in the positions of the openings 91Y and 92Y overlapping with each other in a plan view. For example, a ferric chloride solution may be used to etch the metal sheet 90.

[0054] In the step illustrated in Fig. 8E, the resist layers 91 and 92 are removed using a stripping solution. The steps described above obtain the metal layer 63 that is illustrated in Fig. 6 and used as the intermediate metal layer 43 illustrated in Fig. 2. The metal layer 63 that is used as the intermediate metal layer 44 illustrated in Fig. 2 is also formed through the same steps as the steps illustrated in Figs. 8A to 8E.

[0055] The metal layer 61 that is solid and free from holes and grooves (refer to Fig. 4) is prepared.

[0056] Then, the uppermost metal layer 41 obtained from the metal layer 61 illustrated in Fig. 4, the intermediate metal layer 42 obtained from the metal layer 62 illustrated in Fig. 5, the intermediate metal layer 43 obtained from the metal layer 63 illustrated in Fig. 6, the intermediate metal layer 44 obtained from the metal layer 63 illustrated in Fig. 6, the intermediate metal layer 45 obtained from the metal layer 62 illustrated in Fig. 5, and the lowermost metal layer 46 obtained from the metal layer 61 illustrated in Fig. 4 are sequentially stacked.

[0057] As the metal layers 61 to 63 are heated at a predetermined temperature (for example, approximately 900°C), the metal layers 61 to 63 are pressed so that the metal layers 61 to 63 are bonded through diffusion bonding. Subsequently, air is removed from, for example, the liquid pipe 14 using a vacuum pump (not illustrated), the working fluid C (e.g., water) is injected into the liquid pipe 14 from an inlet (not illustrated), and the inlet is closed.

[0058] The present embodiment has the advantages described below.
  1. (1) The loop heat pipe 1 includes the evaporator 11 that vaporizes the working fluid C, the condenser 13 that liquefies the vapor Cv, the vapor pipe 12 that sends the vaporized working fluid (vapor Cv) to the condenser 13, and the liquid pipe 14 that sends the liquefied working fluid C to the evaporator 11. The liquid pipe 14 includes the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t and the flow passages 14r. The flow passages 14r are surrounded by the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w. The capillary force of the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t surrounding each flow passage 14r disperses the working fluid C flowing through the flow passage 14r into the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t. This limits accumulation of the working fluid C in the flow passages 14r.


[0059] It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the foregoing embodiments may be implemented in many other specific forms without departing from the scope of this disclosure. Particularly, it should be understood that the foregoing embodiments may be implemented in the following forms.

[0060] In the following modified examples, the same reference characters are given to those components that are the same as the corresponding components of the embodiment and other modified examples. Such components may not be described in detail. Each modified example described below and the embodiment described above (Fig. 1) have the same structure except for the liquid pipe. The same structure will not be illustrated in the drawings and described in detail.

[0061] Fig. 9A illustrates a liquid pipe 14A that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t, and the two flow passages 14r.

[0062] The flow passages 14r are surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (43s, 44s), 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w (43w, 44w). In other words, the upper wall, the lower wall, and one side wall of each flow passage 14r are respectively defined by the porous bodies 42t, 45t, and 14s (43s, 44s). The other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w.

[0063] The porous body 14s includes the porous bodies 43s and 44s formed in the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44 of the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46. The porous bodies 43s and 44s are formed in the same manner as those formed in the liquid pipe 14 of the above embodiment (Fig. 2). The porous body 43s includes the bottomed holes 43u and 43d, and the porous body 44s includes the bottomed holes 44u and 44d.

[0064] Each flow passage 14r includes the through holes 43X and 44X extending through the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44 of the metal layers 41 to 46 in the thickness-wise direction. The through holes 43X and 44X are formed in the same manner as those formed in the liquid pipe 14 of the above embodiment (Fig. 2).

[0065] The intermediate metal layer 42 includes the porous bodies 42t immediately above the flow passages 14r. The porous bodies 42t include the bottomed holes 42u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 42 to a central portion of the metal layer 42 in the thickness-wise direction and the bottomed holes 42d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 42 to a central portion of the metal layer 42 in the thickness-wise direction.

[0066] Fig. 9B illustrates the bottomed holes 42u and 42d and the fine pores 42z formed in the metal layer 42 illustrated in Fig. 9A. The bottomed holes 42u and 42d are arranged in rows, and the bottomed holes 42u and 42d are alternately arranged in each row. The bottomed holes 42u are spaced apart and adjacent to one another in a direction (sideward direction in Fig. 9B) orthogonal to the direction of the rows (vertical direction in Fig. 9B, that is, direction in which the working fluid C flows from the condenser 13 toward the evaporator 11). In the same manner, the bottomed holes 42d are spaced apart and adjacent to one another in the direction orthogonal to the direction of the rows. The bottomed holes 42u and 42d are alternately arranged in the direction of the rows and overlap with each other in a plan view. The overlapped portions form the fine pores 42z connecting the bottomed holes 42u and 42d to each other. Preferably, each row extends in a direction in which the working fluid C flows. With the porous bodies 42t having the above configuration, the working fluid C flows in the porous bodies 42t in the direction of the rows through the bottomed holes 42u and 42d, which are alternately arranged in the direction of the rows, and the fine pores 42z, which connect the bottomed holes 42u and 42d to each other through the overlapped portions.

[0067] Fig. 10A illustrates a liquid pipe 14B that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t, and the two flow passages 14r.

[0068] The porous body 14s is formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45, which exclude the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46. In the example illustrated in Fig. 10A, the porous body 14s includes porous bodies 42s, 43s, 44s, and 45s formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45. Each flow passage 14r includes the through holes 43X and 44X formed in the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44.

[0069] The flow passages 14r are surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (43s, 44s), 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w (43w, 44w). In other words, the upper wall, the lower wall, and one side wall of each flow passage 14r are defined by the porous bodies 42t, 45t, and 14s (43s, 44s). The other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w.

[0070] The intermediate metal layer 42 includes the two porous bodies 42t immediately above the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 42s located between the two porous bodies 42t. The porous body 42s is in communication with the porous bodies 42t and the porous body 43s of the intermediate metal layer 43. In the same manner as the porous bodies 42t, the porous body 42s includes the bottomed holes 42u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 42, the bottomed holes 42d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 42, and the fine pores 42z connecting the bottomed holes 42u and 42d. Thus, the intermediate metal layer 42 is entirely formed as a porous body except for the walls 42w located at the two ends. The porous bodies 42t may or may not be distinguished from the porous body 42s.

[0071] The intermediate metal layer 45 includes the two porous bodies 45t immediately below the through holes 44X (flow passages 14r) and a porous body 45s located between the two porous bodies 45t. The porous body 45s is in communication with the porous bodies 45t and the porous body 44s of the intermediate metal layer 44. In the same manner as the porous bodies 45t, the porous body 45s includes the bottomed holes 45u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 45, the bottomed holes 45d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 45, and the fine pores 45z connecting the bottomed holes 45u and 45d. Thus, the intermediate metal layer 45 is entirely formed as a porous body except for the walls 45w located at the two ends. The porous bodies 45t may or may not be distinguished from the porous body 45s.

[0072] The liquid pipe 14B having the above configuration includes a large amount of pours bodies (14s (42s to 45s), 42t, 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r and thus is capable of transferring a large amount of the working fluid C. Also, the large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s), 42t, 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r allows further dispersion of the working fluid C and further limits a liquid accumulation. Thus, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14B are further limited, for example, in a thermal cycle test.

[0073] Fig. 10B illustrates a liquid pipe 14C that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 44t, and four flow passages 14r.

[0074] The porous body 14s is formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45, which exclude the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46. In the example illustrated in Fig. 10B, the porous body 14s includes the porous bodies 42s, 43s, 44s, and 45s formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45. Each flow passage 14r includes a through hole 43X extending through the intermediate metal layer 43 in the thickness-wise direction or a through hole 45X extending through the intermediate metal layer 45 in the thickness-wise direction.

[0075] Thus, each flow passage 14r (through hole 43X) in the intermediate metal layer 43 is surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (43s), 42t, and 44t and the wall 14w (43w). In other words, the upper wall, the lower wall, and one side wall of the flow passage 14r in the intermediate metal layer 43 are defined by the porous bodies 42t, 44t, and 14s (43s). The other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w (43w).

[0076] Also, each flow passage 14r (through hole 45X) in the intermediate metal layer 45 is surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (45s) and 44t, the wall 14w (45w), and the upper surface of the lowermost metal layer 46. In other words, the upper wall and one side wall of the flow passage 14r in the intermediate metal layer 45 are defined by the porous bodies 44t and 14s (45s). The other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w (45w). The lower wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the upper surface of the lowermost metal layer 46.

[0077] The intermediate metal layer 42 includes the two porous bodies 42t immediately above the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 42s located between the two porous bodies 42t. The porous body 42s is in communication with the porous bodies 42t and the porous body 43s of the intermediate metal layer 43. The porous bodies 42t are in communication with the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) of the intermediate metal layer 43. The intermediate metal layer 42 is entirely formed as a porous body except for the walls 42w located at the two ends.

[0078] The intermediate metal layer 43 includes the two through holes 43X extending through in the thickness-wise direction, the two walls 43w located at an outer side of the through holes 43X, and the porous body 43s located between the two through holes 43X. Each through hole 43X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 43u and 43d via a portion of the side surface of the porous body 43s adjacent to the through hole 43X.

[0079] The intermediate metal layer 44 includes two porous bodies 44t immediately above the through holes 45X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 44s located between the two porous bodies 44t. In the same manner as the porous bodies 44t, the porous body 44s includes the bottomed holes 44u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 44, the bottomed holes 44d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 44, and the fine pores 44z connecting the bottomed holes 44u and 44d to each other. Thus, the intermediate metal layer 44 is entirely formed as a porous body except for the walls 44w located at the two ends.

[0080] The porous body 44s is in communication with the porous bodies 44t and the porous bodies 43s and 45s of the intermediate metal layers 43 and 45. The porous bodies 44t are in communication with the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) of the intermediate metal layer 43 and the through holes 45X (flow passages 14r) of the intermediate metal layer 45. For example, the bottomed holes 44u of the intermediate metal layer 44 are in communication with the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) of the intermediate metal layer 43, and the bottomed holes 44d of the intermediate metal layer 44 are in communication with the through holes 45X (flow passages 14r) of the intermediate metal layer 45.

[0081] The intermediate metal layer 45 includes the two through holes 45X extending through in the thickness-wise direction, the two walls 45w located at an outer side of the through holes 45X, and the porous body 45s located between the two through holes 45X. Each through hole 45X is in communication with at least one of the bottomed holes 45u and 45d via a portion of the side surface of the porous body 45s adjacent to the through hole 45X.

[0082] The liquid pipe 14C having the above configuration includes a large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s), 42t, 44t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r and thus is capable of transferring a large amount of the working fluid C. Also, the large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s), 42t, 44t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r allows further dispersion of the working fluid C and limits a liquid accumulation. Thus, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14C are further limited, for example, in a thermal cycle test.

[0083] Fig. 11A illustrates a liquid pipe 14D that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, 43t, 44t, and 45t, and the two flow passages 14r.

[0084] The porous body 14s is formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45, which exclude the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46. In the example illustrated in Fig. 11A, the porous body 14s includes the porous bodies 42s, 43s, 44s, and 45s formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45. Each flow passage 14r includes through holes 42X and 43X extending through the intermediate metal layers 42 and 43 in the thickness-wise direction or the through holes 44X and 45X extending through the intermediate metal layers 44 and 45 in the thickness-wise direction. The through holes 42X and 43X do not overlap with the through holes 44X and 45X in a plan view.

[0085] The intermediate metal layers 42 and 43 respectively include the porous bodies 42t and 43t in positions overlapping with the through holes 44X and 45X of the intermediate metal layers 44 and 45. The intermediate metal layers 44 and 45 respectively include the porous bodies 44t and 45t in positions overlapping with the through holes 42X and 43X of the intermediate metal layers 42 and 43. The intermediate metal layers 42 to 45 include the porous bodies 42s, 43s, 44s, and 45s at positions overlapping with each other.

[0086] In the same manner as the porous body 43t, the porous body 43s of the intermediate metal layer 43 includes the bottomed holes 43u recessed from the upper surface of the intermediate metal layer 43, the bottomed holes 43d recessed from the lower surface of the intermediate metal layer 43, and the fine pores 43z connecting the bottomed holes 43u and 43d to each other.

[0087] The flow passage 14r that includes the through holes 42X and 43X is surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (42s, 43s) and 44t, the wall 14w (42w, 43w), and the lower surface of the uppermost metal layer 41. In other words, the lower wall and one side wall of the flow passage 14r including the through holes 42X and 43X are defined by the porous bodies 44t and 14s (42s, 43s). The other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w (42w, 43w). The upper wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the lower surface of the uppermost metal layer 41.

[0088] The flow passage 14r that includes the through holes 44X and 45X is surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (44s, 45s) and 43t, the wall 14w (44w, 45w), and the upper surface of the lowermost metal layer 46. In other words, the upper wall and one side wall of the flow passage 14r including the through holes 44X and 45X are defined by the porous bodies 43t and 14s (44s, 45s). The other side wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the wall 14w (44w, 44w). The lower wall of the flow passage 14r is defined by the upper surface of the lowermost metal layer 46.

[0089] The liquid pipe 14D having the above configuration includes a large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s) and 42t to 45t) contacting and surrounding the flow passages 14r and thus is capable of transferring a large amount of the working fluid C. Also, the large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s) and 42t to 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r allows further dispersion of the working fluid C and further limits a liquid accumulation. Thus, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14D are further limited, for example, in a thermal cycle test.

[0090] Fig. 11B illustrates a liquid pipe 14E that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t, and the two flow passages 14r. The liquid pipe 14E differs from the liquid pipe 14A illustrated in Fig. 9A in that the metal layers 42 and 45 include the porous bodies 42s and 45s.

[0091] That is, the porous body 14s includes the porous bodies 42s, 43s, 44s, and 45s formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45, which exclude the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46.

[0092] Each flow passage 14r includes the through holes 43X and 44X of the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44. The flow passages 14r are surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (43s, 44s), 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w (43w, 44w). In other words, the upper wall, the lower wall, and one side wall of the flow passages 14r are defined by the porous bodies 42t, 45t, and 14s (43s, 44s). The other side wall of the flow passages 14r is defined by the walls 14w (43w, 44w).

[0093] The intermediate metal layer 42 includes the two porous bodies 42t immediately above the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 42s located between the two porous bodies 42t. In the same manner as in Fig. 9B, the bottomed holes 42u and 42d in the porous bodies 42t are arranged in rows, and the bottomed holes 42u and 42d are alternately arranged in each row. Preferably, each row extends in a direction in which the working fluid C flows.

[0094] The intermediate metal layer 43 includes the two through holes 43X and the porous body 43s located between the two through holes 43X. The intermediate metal layer 44 includes the two through holes 44X and the porous body 44s located between the two through holes 44X.

[0095] The intermediate metal layer 45 includes the two porous bodies 45t immediately below the through holes 44X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 45s located between the two porous bodies 45t. In the same manner as in Fig. 9B, the bottomed holes 45u and 45d in the porous bodies 45t are arranged in rows, and the bottomed holes 45u and 45d are alternately arranged in each row. Preferably, each row extends in a direction in which the working fluid C flows.

[0096] The liquid pipe 14E having the above configuration includes a large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 44s), 42t, 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r and thus is capable of transferring a large amount of the working fluid C. Also, the large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 44s), 42t, 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r allows further dispersion of the working fluid C and limits a liquid accumulation. Thus, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14E are further limited, for example, in a thermal cycle test. Additionally, the bottomed holes 42u and 42d are arranged in rows in the porous bodies 42t immediately above the flow passages 14r, and the bottomed holes 45u and 45d are arranged in rows in the porous bodies 45t immediately below the flow passages 14r. This allows the working fluid C to smoothly move along the flow passages 14r.

[0097] Fig. 12A illustrates a liquid pipe 14F that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46 and includes the two walls 14w, the porous bodies 14s, 42t, and 45t, and the two flow passages 14r.

[0098] The porous body 14s is formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45, which exclude the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46. In the example illustrated in Fig. 12A, the porous body 14s includes the porous bodies 42s, 43s, 44s, and 45s formed in the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45. Each flow passage 14r includes the through holes 43X and 44X formed in the intermediate metal layers 43 and 44.

[0099] The flow passages 14r are surrounded by the porous bodies 14s (43s, 44s), 42t, and 45t and the walls 14w (43w, 44w). In other words, the upper wall, the lower wall, and one side wall of the flow passages 14r are defined by the porous bodies 42t, 45t, and 14s (43s, 44s). The other side wall of the flow passages 14r is defined by the walls 14w (43w, 44w).

[0100] The intermediate metal layer 42 includes the two porous bodies 42t immediately above the through holes 43X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 42s located between the two porous bodies 42t. The intermediate metal layer 43 includes the two through holes 43X and the porous body 43s located between the two through holes 43X. The intermediate metal layer 44 includes the two through holes 44X and the porous body 44s located between the through holes 44X. The intermediate metal layer 45 includes the two porous bodies 45t immediately below the through holes 44X (flow passages 14r) and the porous body 45s located between the two porous bodies 45t.

[0101] The bottomed holes 42d of the porous body 42s overlap with the bottomed holes 43u of the porous body 43s in a plan view. In this case, the area of contact between the intermediate metal layers 42 and 43 stacked on each other is increased. Thus, the intermediate metal layers 42 and 43 are strongly bonded.

[0102] The bottomed holes 43d of the porous body 43s partially overlap with the bottomed holes 44u of the porous body 44s in a plan view. The overlapped portions form fine pores 47z connecting the bottomed holes 43d and 44u to each other. As described above, the metal layers 42 to 45 include the fine pores 42z to 45z, and the interface of two stacked metal layers (e.g., metal layers 43 and 44) includes the fine pores 47z. This increases the total number of fine pores and increases the capillary force generated by the fine pores.

[0103] The liquid pipe 14F having the above configuration includes a large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s), 42t, 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r and thus is capable of transferring a large amount of the working fluid C. Also, the large amount of porous bodies (14s (42s to 45s), 42t, 45t) contacting or surrounding the flow passages 14r allows further dispersion of the working fluid C and limits a liquid accumulation. Thus, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14F are further limited, for example, in a thermal cycle test.

[0104] The stacking structure of the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45 is not limited to the structure illustrated in Fig. 12A. The intermediate metal layers 42 to 45 may be stacked so that upper bottomed holes overlap with lower bottomed holes in each or some of the interfaces of the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45. Alternatively, the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45 may be stacked so that fine pores are formed in each or some of the interfaces of the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45.

[0105] Fig. 12B illustrates a liquid pipe 14G that is formed by the metal layer stack of the metal layers 41 to 46. The intermediate metal layers 42 to 45 of the liquid pipe 14G are formed in the same manner as the intermediate metal layers 42 to 45 of the liquid pipe 14F illustrated in Fig. 12A.

[0106] The uppermost metal layer 41 includes bottomed holes 41d recessed from the lower surface to a central portion of the metal layer 41 in the thickness-wise direction. In a plan view, the bottomed holes 41d partially overlap with the bottomed holes 42u of the intermediate metal layer 42 adjacent to the uppermost metal layer 41. Thus, the interface of the uppermost metal layer 41 and the intermediate metal layer 42 includes fine pores 48z connecting the bottomed holes 41d and 42u to each other.

[0107] The lowermost metal layer 46 includes bottomed holes 46u recessed from the upper surface to a central portion of the metal layer 46 in the thickness-wise direction. In a plan view, the bottomed holes 46u partially overlap with the bottomed holes 45d of the intermediate metal layer 45 adjacent to the lowermost metal layer 46. Thus, the interface of the lowermost metal layer 46 and the intermediate metal layer 45 includes fine pores 49z connecting the bottomed holes 46u and 45d to each other.

[0108] As described above, in the liquid pipe 14G, the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46 respectively include the bottomed holes 41d and 46u. This increases the amount of porous bodies and transfers a large amount of the working fluid C. Additionally, the large amount of porous bodies allows further dispersion of the working fluid C and further limits a liquid accumulation. Thus, deformation and breakage of the liquid pipe 14G are further limited, for example, in a thermal cycle test.

[0109] Fig. 13 illustrates a bent liquid pipe 14H. The intermediate metal layer 42 of the liquid pipe 14H includes the bottomed holes 42u and 42d. The bottomed holes 42u and 42d are alternately arranged along the bent liquid pipe 14H and partially overlap with each other forming the fine pores 42z. This allows the working fluid C to smoothly move along the bent the liquid pipe 14H. The working fluid C readily flows, for example, even in an orthogonally bent portion of the liquid pipe 14H (for example, upper right bent portion of the loop heat pipe 1 in Fig. 1). Although not illustrated in the drawings, the intermediate metal layers 43 to 45 may also include porous bodies and flow passages that are bent along the liquid pipe 14H.

[0110] Further modified examples applicable to the above-described embodiment and modified examples will be described below.

[0111] Fig. 14A illustrates a metal layer 100 having a modified example of a porous structure applicable instead of the metal layers 42 to 45. The metal layer 100 includes bottomed holes 100u and 100d. The bottomed holes 100u are formed in the upper surface of the metal layer 100, and the bottomed holes 100d are formed in the lower surface of the metal layer 100. The bottomed holes 100u and 100d are arranged in rows. The bottomed holes 100u and 100d are alternately arranged in each row. Additionally, the bottomed holes 100u and 100d are alternately arranged in a direction (sideward direction in Fig. 14A) orthogonal to the direction of the rows.

[0112] Fig. 14B illustrates a metal layer 110 having another modified example of a porous structure applicable instead of the metal layers 42 to 45. The metal layer 110 includes bottomed holes 110u and 110d having different sizes. In the example illustrated in Fig. 14B, the bottomed holes 110u are larger than the bottomed holes 110d. However, the bottomed holes 110d may be larger than the bottomed holes 110u. The bottomed holes 110u and 110d having different sizes may be used as bottomed holes that are adjacent to each other between two metal layers. The arrangement of the bottomed holes 110u and 110d may be changed.

[0113] Figs. 15A and 15B illustrate a metal layer 120 having another modified example of a porous structure applicable instead of the metal layers 42 to 45. The metal layer 120 includes bottomed holes 120u and 120d and grooves 121u and 121d. Fig. 15B is a cross-sectional view taken along line b-b in Fig. 15A.

[0114] The bottomed holes 120u are recessed from the upper surface to a central portion of the metal layer 120 in the thickness-wise direction, and the bottomed holes 120d are recessed from the lower surface to a central portion of the metal layer 120 in the thickness-wise direction. The bottomed holes 120u and 120d are arranged in rows and alternately arranged in each row. The bottomed holes 120u and 120d that are alternately arranged in the direction of the rows (vertical direction in Fig. 15A) partially overlap with each other. The overlapped portions form fine pores 120z connecting the bottomed holes 120u and 120d to each other. Additionally, the bottomed holes 120u and 120d are alternately arranged in a direction orthogonal to the direction of the rows (sideward direction in Fig. 15A).

[0115] The grooves 121u are formed in the upper surface of the metal layer 120. Each groove 121u connects two bottomed holes 120u located close to the groove 121u. The grooves 121d are formed in the lower surface of the metal layer 120. Each groove 121d connects two bottomed holes 120d located close to the groove 121d.

[0116] The bottomed holes 120u and 120d that are alternately arranged in the direction of the rows (vertical direction in Fig. 15A) allow the working fluid C to move in the direction of the rows. Each groove 121u formed in the upper surface of the metal layer 120 allows the working fluid C to move between the two bottomed holes 120u connected by the groove 121u. In the same manner, each groove 121d formed in the lower surface of the metal layer 120 allows the working fluid C to move between the two bottomed holes 120d connected by the groove 121d. Thus, the grooves 121u (121d) allow the working fluid C to move in a direction differing form the direction in which the bottomed holes 120u (120d) and the bottomed holes 120u (120d) are alternately arranged.

[0117] The grooves 121u (121d) having the above configuration may be formed in the metal layers 42 to 45 of the above-described embodiment and modified examples or in at least one of the uppermost metal layer 41 and the lowermost metal layer 46 of the modified example illustrated in Fig. 12B.

[0118] The shape of the bottomed holes in the above-described embodiment and modified examples may be changed. For example, the side wall of each bottomed hole is not limited to the tapered wall and may be perpendicular to the bottom wall of the bottomed hole. The inner wall of each bottomed hole (for example, each bottomed hole 43u, 43d illustrated in Fig. 2) may be curved. That is, each bottomed hole may have a curved concave. For example, as illustrated in Fig. 16A, each of bottomed holes 131u and 131d may be semicircular or semi-elliptical in a cross-sectional view. The bottomed holes 131u and 131d having such a configuration may be in communication with to each other and form fine pores 131z. Fig. 16B illustrates further bottomed holes 132u and 132d. As illustrated in Fig. 16B, the side and bottom walls of each of the bottomed holes 132u and 132d may be continuous and arcuate. The bottomed holes 132u and 132d having such a configuration may be in communication with each other and form fine pores 132z.

[0119] In the above-described embodiment and modified examples, the depth of an upper bottomed hole may differ from the depth of a lower bottomed hole. Also, referring to Figs. 16A and 16B, the depth of the upper bottomed holes 131u and 132u may differ from the depth of the lower bottomed holes 131d and 132d.

[0120] The above-described embodiment and modified examples may be partially or entirely combined with each other.

[0121] All examples and conditional language recited herein are intended for pedagogical purposes to aid the reader in understanding the principles of the invention and the concepts contributed by the inventor to furthering the art, and are to be construed as being without limitation to such specifically recited examples and conditions, nor does the organization of such examples in the specification relate to an illustration of the superiority and inferiority of the invention. Although embodiments have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions, and alterations could be made hereto without departing from the scope of this disclosure.


Claims

1. A loop heat pipe (1) comprising:

an evaporator (11) that is configured to vaporize working fluid (C);

a condenser (13) that is configured to liquefy the working fluid (Cv(C)) vaporized by the evaporator (11);

a liquid pipe (14) that is configured to connect the condenser (13) to the evaporator (11) and includes a flow passage (14r) configured to send the working fluid (C) liquefied by the condenser (13) to the evaporator (11); and

a vapor pipe (12) that is configured to connect the evaporator (11) to the condenser (13) to send the working fluid (Cv(C)) vaporized by the evaporator (11) to the condenser (13),

the loop heat pipe (1) being characterized in that

the liquid pipe (14) is formed by a metal layer stack of a plurality of metal layers (41-46), the plurality of metal layers (41-46) including a first metal layer (43,44) through which a first through hole (43X,44X) extends in a thickness-wise direction,

the flow passage (14r) of the liquid pipe (14) is formed by at least the first through hole (43X,44X) and has four walls that define the flow passage (14r), and

the liquid pipe (14) further includes a plurality of porous bodies (14s,43s,44s,42t,45t) that are configured to form at least two of the four walls of the flow passage (14r).


 
2. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 1, wherein
the plurality of porous bodies (14s,43s,44s,42t,45t) include a first porous body (43s,44s) formed in the first metal layer (43,44), and
the first porous body (43s,44s) includes:

a first bottomed hole (43u,44u) recessed in an upper surface of the first metal layer (43,44);

a second bottomed hole (43d,44d) recessed in a lower surface of the first metal layer (43,44); and

a fine pore (43z,44z) partially connecting the first bottomed hole (43u,44u) and the second bottomed hole (43d,44d).


 
3. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 1, wherein
the plurality of metal layers (41-46) further include a second metal layer (42,45) covering the first through hole (43X,44X),
the plurality of porous bodies (14s,43s,44s,42t,45t) include:

a first porous body (43s,44s) formed in the first metal layer (43,44) to be adjacent to the first through hole (43X,44X); and

a second porous body (42t,45t) formed in the second metal layer (42,45) to cover at least the first through hole (43X,44X).


 
4. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 3, wherein
the plurality of metal layers (41-46) further include a third metal layer (45,42) opposite to the second metal layer (42,45) to cover the first through hole (43X,44X), and
the plurality of porous bodies (14s,43s,44s,42t,45t) further include a third porous body (45t,42t) formed in the third metal layer (45,42) to cover at least the first through hole (43X,44X).
 
5. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 4, wherein the plurality of metal layers (41-46) further include:

a first outermost metal layer (41,46) stacked on the second metal layer (42,45); and

a second outermost metal layer (46,41) stacked on the third metal layer (45,42).


 
6. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 4, wherein
the plurality of metal layers (41-46) further include a fourth metal layer (44,43) between the first metal layer (43,44) and the second metal layer (42,45), wherein the fourth metal layer (44,43) includes a second through hole (44X,43X) extending through the fourth metal layer (44,43) in the thickness-wise direction in a position overlapping with the first through hole (43X,44X),
the flow passage (14r) includes the first through hole (43X,44X) and the second through hole (44X,43X), and
the plurality of porous bodies (14s,43s,44s,42t,45t) further include a fourth porous body (44s,43s) formed in the fourth metal layer (44,43) to be adjacent to the second through hole (44X,43X).
 
7. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 4, wherein
the plurality of metal layers (41-46) further include:

a fifth metal layer (45) stacked on the third metal layer (44) and including a third through hole (45X), wherein the third through hole (45X) extends through the fifth metal layer (45) in the thickness-wise direction in a position overlapping with the first through hole (43X); and

an outermost metal layer (46) stacked on the fifth metal layer (45) to cover the third through hole (45X);

the flow passage (14r) includes:

a first flow passage (14r) including the first through hole (43X); and

a second flow passage (14r) including the third through hole (45X),

the plurality of porous bodies (14s,42s,43s,44s,45s,42t,45t) further include a fifth porous body (45s) formed in the fifth metal layer (45) to be adjacent to the third through hole (45X), and
the third porous body (44t) formed in the third metal layer (44) covers at least both of the first through hole (43X) and the third through hole (45X).
 
8. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 3, wherein
the plurality of metal layers (41-46) further include a sixth metal layer (44) between the first metal layer (43) and the second metal layer (45), wherein the sixth metal layer (44) includes a fourth through hole (44X) extending through the sixth metal layer (44) in the thickness-wise direction in a position that does not overlap with the first through hole (43X),
the flow passage (14r) includes:

a first flow passage (14r) including the first through hole (43X); and

a second flow passage (14r) including the fourth through hole (44X), and

the plurality of porous bodies (14s,42s,43s,44s,45s,42t,43t,44t,45t) further include a sixth porous body (44s) formed in the sixth metal layer (44) to be adjacent to the fourth through hole (44X).
 
9. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 5, wherein
the first outermost metal layer (41,46) include a third bottomed hole (41d) recessed in the surface of the first outermost metal layer (41,46) adjacent to the second metal layer (42,45), and
the second outermost metal layer (46,41) includes a fourth bottomed hole (46u) recessed in the surface of the second outermost metal layer (46,41) adjacent to the third metal layer (45,42).
 
10. The loop heat pipe (1) according to claim 1, wherein
the metal layer stack (41-46) is formed by two outermost metal layers (41,46) and a plurality of intermediate metal layers (42-45) located between the two outermost metal layers (41,46),
the metal layer stack (41-46) includes the evaporator (11), the vapor pipe (12), the condenser (13), and the liquid pipe (14) that are connected to form a loop,
the plurality of intermediate metal layers (42-45) include the first metal layer (43,44),
the flow passage (14r) is formed as a single communication hole extending from the condenser (13) to the evaporator (11) along the liquid pipe (14),
the flow passage (14r) extends through at least one of the plurality of intermediate metal layers (42-45) in the thickness-wise direction, and
the plurality of porous bodies (14s,43s,44s,42t,45t) are formed in at least two of the plurality of intermediate metal layers (42-45) to form the at least two of the four walls of the flow passage (14r) .
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description