Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a heat exchanger produced by additive manufacturing that operates with high efficiency under high pressure and temperature conditions.
Heat exchangers often operate under extreme conditions in large-scale applications. However, exchangers operating at very high temperatures can undergo accelerated corrosion and material fatigue. Similarly, exchangers operating at extreme pressures require increased material thicknesses, increasing production costs. Expensive metal alloys have been introduced for exchangers operating in extreme environments. But, this solution both raises production costs and can lead to lower exchanger thermal conductivity in many applications.
Researchers at the University of California Davis have developed a counter-flow heat exchanger capable of operating under extreme conditions. The exchanger is fabricated using additive manufacturing. It includes an array of microscale pins on both the hot and cold sides of the exchanger – which promotes higher heat transfer rates. This exchanger can be produced through the use of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) and metallic, 3D printing techniques. It has been tested at temperatures up to 800 degrees C and pressures over 200 bar, and has an estimated operating life of 40,000 hours. The combination of lower fabrication costs and its effectiveness in high temperature/high pressure operating environments exceeds other options available currently.