Modular recuperators

HiETA have developed and tested a number of modular recuperators, allowing the benefits offered by the use of the Additive Manufacturing process (metal 3D printing) to be applied to components and systems larger than that able to fit in a single build.

HiETA have developed core heat exchanger technologies that allow significantly enhanced heat transfer surfaces to be deployed, offering customers unit volume reductions of potentially over 5 times that of conventional technologies for the equivalent heat transfer and pressure drop requirements. These have been tested in a number of materials and applications, including aluminium charge air coolers, stainless steel fuel cell condensers and nickel superalloy gas turbine recuperators.

Current machine build volumes are of the order of 250 x 250 x 300mm, and as such, this is the size limitation on a single build. Future machines will include larger build volumes, but in order to scale up the heat exchanger technology, modular concepts have been developed.

HiETA have used processes such as laser welding, compression frames and mechanical joining to join, seal and locate multiple units, allowing units of significantly larger sizes than a single build to be developed and delivered.

Modular units have a number of advantages. Depending on the joining technique, it is possible to mass manufacture small sub-units and then join them in a number of different configurations to give flexible product packages. Also, single parts can be replaced in service to allow better maintenance and operability, without the need for scrapping/removing the whole system. It is also possible to transport the unit in smaller sections, making the assembly and overhaul (and provisioning of spare parts) much easier and more flexible.

HiETA are now looking to take this technology and apply to much larger and higher-pressure applications, addressing markets such as oil and gas, power generation and supercritical CO2.