Microchannel Heat Exchangers for Aircraft Thermal Management

Period of Performance: 02/06/2007 - 02/06/2009


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Creare, Inc.
16 Great Hollow Road Array
Hanover, NH 03755
Principal Investigator


State-of-the-art fighter aircraft face challenging cooling requirements and severe limitations on heat exchanger size and weight. Current and future aircraft will require advanced heat exchanger technology to minimize mass, increase the cooling available from bleed air, and/or reduce pressure losses. Microchannel heat exchangers offer improved performance compared with plate-fin heat exchangers, but the expense of manufacturing microchannel heat exchangers is prohibitive and current fabrication methods limit the heat exchanger size and the materials of construction. We propose a microchannel heat exchanger that enables low-cost manufacture of compact heat exchangers from a wide variety of common alloys. In Phase I we developed generalized design methods for the microchannel heat exchangers, used these methods to assess heat exchangers in the F-35 JSF power and thermal management system, and identified the heat exchangers with the highest payoff from our microchannel technology. In the Phase I Option we demonstrated the key fabrication step needed to build this heat exchanger. In Phase II, we plan to scale up and optimize our fabrication approach, conduct extensive tests of subscale heat exchanger cores under prototypical conditions, and build a full-size prototype heat exchanger sized to meet specifications for service on the F-35. We propose Option Phase tasks to test the full-size prototype under realistic conditions.