AIR SIDE HEAT TRANSFER ENHANCEMENT IN HEAT EXCHANGERS UTILIZING INNOVATIVE DESIGNS AND THE ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUE
Arie, Martinus Adrian
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Over the last decade, rapid development of additive manufacturing techniques has allowed the fabrication of innovative and complex designs. One field that can benefit from such technology is heat exchanger fabrication, as heat exchanger design has become more and more complex due to the demand for higher performance particularly on the air side of the heat exchanger. By employing the additive manufacturing, a heat exchanger design was successfully realized, which otherwise would have been very difficult to fabricate using conventional fabrication technologies. In this dissertation, additive manufacturing technique was implemented to fabricate an advanced design which focused on a combination of heat transfer surface and fluid distribution system. Although the application selected in this dissertation is focused on power plant dry cooling applications, the results of this study can directly and indirectly benefit other sectors as well, as the air-side is often the limiting side for in liquid or single phase cooling applications. Two heat exchanger designs were studied. One was an advanced metallic heat exchanger based on manifold-microchannel technology and the other was a polymer heat exchanger based on utilization of prime surface technology. Polymer heat exchangers offer several advantages over metals such as antifouling, anticorrosion, lightweight and often less expensive than comparable metallic heat exchangers. A numerical modeling and optimization were performed to calculate a design that yield an optimum performance. The optimization results show that significant performance enhancement is noted compared to the conventional heat exchangers like wavy fins and plain plate fins. Thereafter, both heat exchangers were scaled down and fabricated using additive manufacturing and experimentally tested. The manifold-micro channel design demonstrated that despite some fabrication inaccuracies, compared to a conventional wavy-fin surface, 15% - 50% increase in heat transfer coefficient was possible for the same pressure drop value. In addition, if the fabrication inaccuracy can be eliminated, an even larger performance enhancement is predicted. Since metal based additive manufacturing is still in the developmental stage, it is anticipated that with further refinement of the manufacturing process in future designs, the fabrication accuracy can be improved. For the polymer heat exchanger, by fabricating a very thin wall heat exchanger (150μm), the wall thermal resistance, which usually becomes the limiting side for polymer heat exchanger, was calculated to account for only up to 3% of the total thermal resistance. A comparison of air-side heat transfer coefficient of the polymer heat exchanger with some of the commercially available plain plate fin surface heat exchangers show that polymer heat exchanger performance is equal or superior to plain plate fin surfaces. This shows the promising potential for polymer heat exchangers to compete with conventional metallic heat exchangers when an additive manufacturing-enabled fabrication is utilized. Major contributions of this study are as follows: (1) For the first time demonstrated the potential of additive manufacturing in metal printing of heat exchangers that benefit from a sophisticated design to yield a performance substantially above the respective conventional systems. Such heat exchangers cannot be fabricated with the conventional fabrication techniques. (2) For the first time demonstrated the potential of additive manufacturing to produce polymer heat exchangers that by design minimize the role of thermal conductivity and deliver a thermal performance equal or better that their respective metallic heat exchangers. In addition of other advantages of polymer over metal like antifouling, anticorrosion, and lightweight. Details of the work are documented in respective chapters of this thesis.