Design and Manufacturing of High-Performance, Reduced Charge Heat Exchangers

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Lead Performer: University of Maryland — College Park, MD
-- Oak Ridge National Laboratory — Oak Ridge, TN
-- Heat Transfer Technologies (HTT) — Prospect Heights, IL
DOE Total Funding: $1,750,000
Cost Share: $174,913
Project Term: September 2017—September 2020
Funding Type: Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2017 (DE-FOA-0001632)

Project Objective

The University of Maryland will develop the next generation air-to-refrigerant heat exchangers using non-round tubes that are 25% smaller, 25% lighter and 30% reduced charge than state-of-the-art heat exchangers. The reduced charge advantage will facilitate the use of alternative refrigerants (A2L, A3), which are some of the most efficient refrigerants available.

The project team proposes the following goals:

  • Enhance the existing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and framework to add simultaneous FEM/FEA analysis and apply it to design optimal heat exchangers with finned and finless non-round tubes and optimal headers to minimize size, weight, and refrigerant charge
  • Create non-round tube heat exchanger prototypes
  • Determine flow distribution, wetting, and frosting through comprehensive laboratory testing
  • Deliver three heat exchanger prototypes to U.S. manufacturers for testing and validation

Project Impact

These new heat exchangers will make the systems 10% more efficient, saving 0.26 quads annually (based on BTO Market Calculator, 2030 primary energy consumption prediction of air-conditioning systems and heat pumps, total 2.6 quads), while leading to potential cost savings due to reduction in material, volume and logistics requirements. This design framework also has the potential to be further used to design and optimized other HVAC&R heat exchangers, with significant reduction in refrigerant charge.


DOE Technology Manager: Antonio Bouza
Lead Performer: Reinhard Radermacher, University of Maryland

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