In multi-layer and multi-fluid plate and fin heat exchangers, fluid ports are required to be located on the side of the heat exchanger. However, the fluid flow is perpendicular to the direction in which the fluid is introduced into the heat exchanger via the fluid port. In order to turn the flow to the correct direction within a fluid layer, angled fin sections are used. In heat exchangers that have “tented” ends, multiple angled fin sections are required. Often, five or more separate fin pieces are required per fluid layer. Such configurations result in increased part count, more complicated fabrication, and increased overall cost.

A method of distributing flow within a fluid layer of a multi-layer heat exchanger is provided. The method includes introducing a fluid into a fin layer through an inlet port in a direction substantially perpendicular to primary fluid flow direction. The method redirects the fluid from the inlet end region using a single-piece fin segment that has multiple fluid channels embedded in the fin. Utilizing this fin segment allows the fluid flow to align to the proper direction for the required heat transfer. A similar approach can be used at the outlet end region to return the flow to a direction substantially perpendicular to the primary flow.

The multi-layer heat exchanger allows heat transfer between multiple fluids being routed through various layers.

The simplified method for uniformly distributing flow within a fluid layer of a multi-layer heat exchanger is typically utilized with traditional plate and fin heat exchangers. This method benefits heat exchangers with side entry ports as well as heat exchangers with “tented” entry ports. Utilizing this approach not only leads to reduced part count and cost, but also simplifies the fabrication of the overall heat exchanger.

This work was done by Dale Cooke, Jeremy Strange, and Mark Zaffetti of UTC Aerospace Systems for Johnson Space Center.NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MSC-25992-1


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This article first appeared in the March, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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