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UTC to look for new heat exchanger materials

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USA: Carrier’s parent company United Technologies (UTC) has been awarded a $744,154 contract to explore new high performance non-metallic materials for the manufacture of heat exchangers.

The one-year contract has been awarded United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), the research and innovation arm of UTC, by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Under the terms of the contract, UTRC will develop a database of materials for the manufacturing of high-performance industrial and commercial non-metallic heat exchangers.

“We’re excited to be working with the Department of Energy on this next-generation technology to explore new materials for heat exchangers,” said Abbas Alahyari, UTRC principal scientist and project leader. “If we can reduce the life-cycle and manufacturing costs utilising new materials, then we can save a significant amount of energy.”

According to Alahyari, the review will include material identification and literature evaluation, as well as empirical and model characterisation, resulting in a database of relevant material properties and characteristics to provide guidance for future heat exchanger development. Key material features will include thermal conductivity, permeability, life-cycle cost, flammability and manufacturability.

UTRC will work closely with UTC Building & Industrial Systems, which includes air conditioning manufacturer Carrier, as well as UTC Aerospace Systems for aerospace applications to define requirements and impact on energy use, both in manufacturing and operations. UTRC will also work with leading universities to ensure access to the latest developments and to procure samples for evaluation.”

“We will explore new composite materials for their suitability to replace existing metal materials in the production of heat exchangers for the aerospace and heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration markets,” explained Dr Catherine Thibaud-Erkey, materials and manufacturing program element lead for the UTC Building & Industrial Systems program office at UTRC. “Applications could range from aircraft environmental control systems, to chillers and hvac&r systems. We plan to identify materials that will operate in a range of environments, will cost less, won’t suffer from corrosion, are easier to maintain, and are lightweight – the latter being of particular importance in aerospace applications.”

“Existing modelling tools and those to be developed will be used to predict thermal conductivity and mechanical properties of the composite materials,” said Thibaud-Erkey.

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