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Complexity and Performance Analysis for Additively Manufactured Manifold Microchannel Heat Exchangers

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Manifold-microchannel heat exchanger (MMHX) has become a favorite topic for investigation in various fields ranging from air conditioning to aircraft gas turbine engines. In essence, high manufacturing cost has emerged as the major drawback in broad applications of MMHXs. The possibility of cost-effective manufacturing has generated wide interest in applying additive manufacturing (AM) for fabricating MMHXs. Furthermore, AM technologies will provide an opportunity for enhanced design and superior heat transfer performance. The main objective of this research is to provide a framework for complexity and performance analysis for various heat exchanger designs. In this study, innovative MMHXs are designed and fabricated through selective laser melting. This study investigates the tradeoffs among cost-effectiveness, geometric complexity and thermal performance for additively manufactured MMHXs. An experimental instrument was designed to measure pressure drop and heat transfer in AM designed MMHXs with a wide range of Reynolds numbers. The air-side coefficient of performance was calculated based on the heat flow rate, air pressure drop, and air flow rate. Measurement results demonstrated that adding more internal features, i.e. increasing design complexity, does not necessarily improve the MMHX performance.  The experimental results provide a guidance for AM design optimization.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand new trends in the design and development of heat exchanger using additive manufacturing
  • Describe the challenges in using additive manufacturing for new designs of heat exchangers
  • Describe complexity vs performance in additively manufactured parts