CORVALLIS, Ore. Engineers at Oregon State University have invented a new way to use surface-mount adhesives in the production of low-temperature, microchannel heat exchangers - an advance that will make this promising technology much less expensive for many commercial applications.
This type of technology will be needed, researchers say, in next-generation computers, lasers, consumer electronics, automobile cooling systems, fuel processors, miniature heat pumps and more.
New industries and jobs are possible. A patent has been applied for, the findings reported in the Journal of Manufacturing Processes, and the university is seeking a partner for further commercial development.
"Even though microchannel arrays have enormous potential for more efficient heat transfer and chemical reactions, high production costs have so far held back the broad, mainstream use of the technology," said Brian Paul, a professor in the OSU School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
"In certain applications, this new approach has reduced material costs by 50 percent," Paul said. "It could cut production bonding costs by more than 90 percent, compared to existing approaches to microchannel lamination. And the use of surface-mount adhesives is directly translatable to the electronics assembly industry, so there is less risk going to market.
"This type of manufacturing research could enable a microchannel revolution," he said.
Microchannels, the diameter of a human hair, can be patterned into the surface of a metal or plastic, and can be designed to speed up the heat exchange between fluids, or the mixing and separation of fluids during chemical reactions. The accelerated heat and mass transfer leads to smaller heat exchangers and chemical reactors and separators, such as a portable "home dialysis" system that evolved out of previous OSU research.
Cost and production issues, however, have unti
|Contact: Brian Paul|
Oregon State University