Microchannel Heat Exchangers for Aircraft Thermal Management

Period of Performance: 10/31/2005 - 04/30/2006

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

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

Abstract

Thermal loads from electronics and advanced weapons systems have increased the cooling required from environmental control systems (ECS) in state of the art fighter aircraft. Future aircraft will require advanced heat exchanger technology to minimize the size and weight of the ECS. Microchannels offer improved heat transfer/pressure drop characteristics compared to plate fin heat exchangers, but the expense of manufacturing microchannel heat exchangers is prohibitive. We propose a microchannel heat exchanger that uses low cost manufacturing methods. In Phase I we will develop generalized design methods for microchannel heat exchangers, use these methods to assess the heat exchangers in the F 35 Joint Strike Fighter ECS, and identify the heat exchangers that will benefit most from our microchannel technology. We will design a full size prototype heat exchanger core using the microchannel approach and estimate its performance and production costs. Finally, we will prove the feasibility of our approach by fabricating and testing a proof of concept, microchannel heat exchanger using prototypical, low cost fabrication methods. In Phase II we will design, build, and test a full size prototype heat exchanger under conditions that simulate operation in the F 35 ECS.