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Next Generation Heat Exchangers Design Using Additive Manufacturing and Shape Optimization

Primary Information



Project No.


Sanction and Project Initiation

Sanction No: F. No.3-18/2015-T.S.-I (Vol. III)

Sanction Date: 20/01/2017

Project Initiation date: 31/03/2017

Project Duration: 36

Partner Ministry/Agency/Industry

Partner Ministry: Department of Heavy Industry Partner Industry: GE India Industrial Pvt. Ltd.


Role of partner:Department of heavy industry is financially supporting this project and monitoring the progress GE India Industrial Pvt. Ltd. is supposed to be assist this project with technical inputs and work along with institute to deliver the project successfully.


Support from partner:Partner ministry: First year grant is received from DHI and it is fully utilized towards purchasing of equipment and commercial software license. Second year grant is not received and we requested the partner ministry to release it at the earliest. Partner Industry: No technical inputs from GE and the collaboration agreement is not yet signed. GE have expressed their inability to continue in this project due to Intellectual property and conflict of interest issues.

Principal Investigator

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Dr. K. Arul PrakashPrimary
IIT Madras

Host Institute


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Dr. Sreenivas Jayanti
IIT Madras

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Dr. B.V.V.S.S. Prasad
IIT Madras

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Dr. S. Vengadesan
IIT Madras

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Dr. G. Saravana Kumar
Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Scope and Objectives

The current requirement from the industry is to replace conventional heat exchangers with the new heat exchangers that have the following characteristics. Meet cooling demands of the system under consideration Meet high heat load per unit area Compact and light weight Achieve highest possible surface to volume ratio It is known that the current heat transfer enhancement techniques use different types of fins to improve their efficiency. The fin shape and size can be optimized to improve the performance further. However, the manufacturability of the complex geometries is limited with the conventional manufacturing processes. With the advent of additive manufacturing, it is envisioned that next generation heat exchangers can be developed meeting the global industrial needs. The project envisages heat exchanger design that shall incorporate novel design of fins and extended surfaces for efficient heat transfer. The design process shall involve pre-analytical calculations followed by verification with the high fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation to arrive at an optimal heat exchanger design considering the requirements. The designs shall follow functional requirement and not be limited by manufacturability and take advantage of recent advances in additive manufacturing technologies. Specifically, the project aims at a novel design of new air to air inter-cooler (IC) design using additively printed heat exchanger cores which are expected to improve the volumetric and gravimetric efficiency. The objective is to develop next generation heat exchangers incorporating advanced thermo-fluid design methodologies along with additive manufacturing useful for transportation and energy applications. It is anticipated that the prototype heat exchanger will have 25 % reduction in space per unit kW heat transferred compared to existing system in locomotives. This effort would also pave way for realizing next generation heat exchangers for a variety of industrial applications with substantial impact on energy consumption in terms of fuel savings.


Deliverable at the time of completion of the project A novel heat exchanger design and optimization methodology which integrates the physics of heat transfer with capabilities and constraints of additive manufacturing and factoring in modularity and scalability. Prototype Heat Exchanger with 25 % improvement of volumetric heat transfer efficiency. Optimum size of extended surfaces to be utilized in heat exchanger with enhanced mixing for maximum heat transfer and minimum pressure drop which shall be arrived only by additive manufacturing. Structurally strong joints which can withstand thermal and mechanical stresses due to high thermal gradients and pressure variation.


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Scientific Output

Analytical calculation for the 10 kW prototype benchmark cross flow finned-tube air to air heat exchanger is completed. Simulations of pipe with different geometrical shape is under progress to identify the better geometry for novel heat exchanger. Simulation of new fluid flow shapes with different obstacles in flow path is performed to evaluate the Thermo-fluid properties of heat exchanger. A novel sinusoidal pipe is designed in order to augment the heat transfer coefficient of the heat exchanger. Simulation result shows that there is a considerable improvement in the heat transfer. The research is extended by introducing novel pyramid fins with varying heights along the flow length of the sinusoidal pipe. Also, dimples are created in the pipe inside for creating more turbulence to the flow. Space filling curve concept is newly adapted for developing the heat exchanger. Thermo-fluid analysis is performed for different order of space filling curve and observed a better heat transfer rate. Major advantage of this space filling heat exchanger concept is, it eliminates the necessity of having external fins for maximizing the heat transfer. Identification of some more novel designs for heat exchanger is under progress.


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Results and outcome till date

Novel heat exchanger designs have been developed based on the space filling curve concepts. The proposed designs show good thermal performance that will help to beat the performance of conventional heat exchanger design by providing the maximum heat exchanging surface area without any external extended surfaces (fins). Also these models are simple to fabricate compared to the conventional heat exchanger designs. New wavy pipe models have been developed with porcupine fins on the both outside and inside of the tube. These porcupine fins gives the 3D effect to the flowing fluid that enhance the mixing rate. Simulation result showed better thermo-hydraulic properties than the conventional tubes. Also the porcupine fins considerably enhances the heat transfer rate leads to the removal of higher heat load than normal wavy tube. Further research is under progress to augment the internal and external heat transfer coefficient of circular pipe with varying cross sectional area of pipe and analyzing new fin designs. Numerical simulations performed on the new heat exchanger designs show a better heat transfer.


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Societal benefit and impact anticipated

The proposed additive manufactured novel heat exchanger will considerably reduce the heat exchanger size and the materials needed to fabricate the heat exchanger. It gives higher Gravimetric and Volumetric efficiency compared to the conventionally manufactured heat exchanger. This paves a pathway for industries to develop novel advanced additive manufactured heat exchanger for different application in order to conserves the energy efficiently.

Next steps

An experimental test rig with state of art facility is to be completed and the testing of heat exchanger will be initiated. Fabrication of heat exchanger model using additive manufacturing is initiated. Numerical simulation is extended to identify some more new designs for heat exchangers. Optimization process is to be initiated for evaluating the heat exchanger with better thermo-fluid properties.

Publications and reports



An Indian patent is applied in the title of A novel heat exchanger based on the 3D space filling curve.

Scholars and Project Staff

Dr. T. Rajaseenivasan Senior Project Officer till March 2020.
Mr. Aneesh K Mohanan Project Associate and MS scholar till March 2020
Mr. Jibin Joy Project Associate appointed till March 2020.

Challenges faced

Collaboration agreement not yet signed with GE India Industrial Pvt. Ltd. No technical input from GE GE have expressed their inability to continue with this project due to Intellectual property and conflict of Interest.

Other information

Collaboration agreement not signed with GE India Industrial Pvt. Ltd. No technical input from GE GE have expressed their inability to continue with this project due to Intellectual property and conflict of Interest.

Financial Information

  • Total sanction: Rs. 34200000

  • Amount received: Rs. 17200000

  • Amount utilised for Equipment: Rs. 4218541

  • Amount utilised for Manpower: Rs. 1642594

  • Amount utilised for Consumables: Rs. 5968985

  • Amount utilised for Contingency: Rs. 1898290

  • Amount utilised for Travel: Rs. 66074

  • Amount utilised for Other Expenses: 0

  • Amount utilised for Overheads: Rs. 2866667

Equipment and facilities


1. Blower
2. Air compressors
3. Pressure transducer and pressure transmitter
4. Temperature isolator
5. Vortex flow meter
6. Data acquisition system
7. Servers and Workstations
8. ANSYS Fluent Commercial license

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