Improved Braze Joint Quality Through Use of Enhanced Surface Technologies

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Lead Performer: Trane—La Crosse, WI
Partner: University of Illinois—Champaign, IL
DOE Total Funding: $330,000
Cost Share: $83,000
Project Term: 2016-2019
Funding Type: Building Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovations Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2016 (DE-FOA-0001383)


Trane, in partnership with the University of Illinois, will develop engineered microstructure surfaces that will reduce refrigerant leaks and enhance HVAC&R systems’ efficiency by improving the strength and quality of brazed joints. The microstructures will be used to create stronger and more robust braze joints by wicking braze alloy and flux to the brazing joint area. The microstructures make the surfaces for brazing attracted to or repellent of the braze alloy and flux, which is a revolutionary breakthrough in the brazing industry and will dramatically reduce HVAC&R refrigerant leaks. By using the microengineered surface structures, it will decrease the amount of braze alloy and flux materials required for brazing by 10%. The price increase associated with this surface technology will be offset by this decrease in materials. 


Refrigerants used in HVAC systems typically have a high global warming potential. This project aims to reduce the annual refrigerant leak rate by 25% in commercial HVAC refrigeration systems, equating to 0.05 Quads in annual energy savings. If this surface technology is extended to residential applications, the systems could yield an additional 0.08 Quads in annual energy savings.


DOE Technology Manager: Antonio Bouza
Lead Performer: Brian Westfall, Trane

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