High Pressure Heat Exchanger Produced by Additive Manufacturing

Tech ID: 30394 / UC Case 2018-626-0


Researchers at the University of California, Davis and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new design and fabrication method for high pressure heat exchangers (HX) using additive manufacturing (AM). This method would allow for the creation of primary heat exchanger (PHX) systems with minimal energy loss.

Full Description

Straight tube heat exchangers transfer heat between a solid and a liquid, or between liquids. Finned tube heat exchangers transfer heat between air, gas and liquids or steam. They can be used in more applications, are space-saving and more efficient than straight tube heat exchangers but are also more expensive. Both modern heat exchangers, however, are created with reductive manufacturing, resulting in weak spots at braze and weld points which, when combined with a lack of modularity, limits them to lower pressure applications.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new design and method to create a high pressure heat exchanger by utilizing additive manufacturing. This new method would allow for the creation of high pressure heat exchangers that have little to no weak spots. Additive manufacturing also allows for modular manufacturing, decreasing the overall manufacturing costs when adapting the system for various needs. The inventors have successfully designed and manufactured a primary heat exchanger (PHX) for waste heat recovery. The fabricated PHX was preliminarily tested and able to withstand an internal pressure of ~200 bar at ~550°C. The design has a high effectiveness due to a near counter-flow design with the use of high temperature superalloys, low pressure drop in the hot gas side and microscale pin fin architecture in the high pressure side.


  • Primary heat exchangers for fossil and waste heat recovery applications
  • Solar thermal receivers
  • Supercritical carbon dioxide power cycles for more efficient and renewable power cycles in nuclear power plants, solar thermal programs, and other energy development programs that utilize heat transfer
  • Methane and hydrogen combustion chambers within aerospace applications, such as jet engines, rockets and space shuttles
  • Petrochemical plant design with decreased total cost and increased waste removal efficiency


  • Can be built module by module, which decreases the cost that is incurred when restarting the reductive manufacturing process to make the heat exchanger larger
  • Provides strong braze and weld joints, which would lead to a decrease in combustive gas loss and an increase in efficiency

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Patent Cooperation Treaty Reference for National Filings 2020033013 02/13/2020 2018-626

Patent Pending


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  • Narayanan, Vinod
  • Rasouli, Erfan

Other Information


heat exchanger, additive manufacturing, additively manufactured, 3D printing, high temperature, high pressure, microscale, pin fin, power cycles, combustors, weld integrity, supercritical carbondioxide, sCO2, waste heat recovery

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