Shape Memory Alloy Based Thermal Conduction Switch for on Demand Heat Transfer

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An exemplary thermal conduction switch in a parallel setup according to an embodiment of the inventionSimplified depiction of an exemplary thermal conduction switch in a series setup according to an embodiment of the invention
Rajan Vaidyanathan, Ph.D.
Vinu Krishnan
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Andrea Adkins
Assistant Director 407.823.0138
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Shape memory thermal conduction switch

US Patent 7,752,866 B2

This invention embodies a thermal conduction switch based on shape memory alloy material to provide on-demand heat transfer between reservoirs kept at different temperatures

Thermal conduction switches play an important role in heat management for numerous systems. They are used in spacecraft and satellites for applications such as cooling of reservoirs and equipment, and long-term storage of ascent module propellant. However, current thermal switch technology fails to deliver performance requirements needed for certain low-temperature applications, such as those found in space and certain ground-based environments. These performance requirements include high efficiency, good thermal isolation, high heat transfer, high reliability and simplicity of design (e.g., no reliance on external sensors or complex control mechanism devices).

Technical Details

UCF researchers have designed a more reliable, simple, and efficient thermal conduction switch that is based on shape memory alloy. These shape memory alloys are a unique class of material that possess the ability to remember a shape and return to that predetermined form upon heating them to a given temperature. This property eliminates the use of sensors and control devices.


  • Simpler and less expensive than current technology
  • Does not uses expensive sensors or control devices
  • Usable in low temperatures


  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Satellites
  • Spacecraft
  • Cooling of equipment
  • Long-term storage of ascent module propellants