Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Degree Level



Mechanical Engineering


Huang, Adam

Committee Member/Reader

Jensen, David


The joule heating characteristics of Nichrome burn wires, often used as a thermal cutting device in mechanisms designed to fasten and release CubeSat deployables, are examined in the following thesis. Wires ranging from 0.125 inches to 2 inches long, and diameters of 30 Ga and 40 Ga, are investigated through analytical calculations and thermal simulations based on heat transfer due to joule heating, and through physical circuitry-based experiments. The temperature data is used to generate heating curves to predict the time it takes for Nichrome wires to fail under varying testing parameters. This research aims to catalog a series of data for future use relating to the heating characteristics of Nichrome wires for spacecraft applications. It also serves as a starting point for future research into utilizing the wire as a stand-alone mechanism for fastening and deploying spacecraft deployables as opposed to the NRL burn wire mechanism that is the standard. This research will be used to inspire further research into alternatives to the NRL design that will benefit the CubeSat program at the University of Arkansas.


Nichrome, Burn Wire, Joule Heating, CubeSat, ArkSat, Heat Transfer