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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Microcapillary Recuperative Heat Exchanger (MRHX)

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Microcapillary Recuperative Heat Exchanger (MRHX), Phase I
CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) propose to develop a low-cost lightweight recuperative heat exchanger for High Power/High Efficiency cryocoolers, in support of Cryogenic Fluid Management for In-Space Transportation. Brayton cryocoolers are well suited for high cooling power space applications, especially those such as cryogenic propellant management that benefit from broad area cooling. However, Brayton recuperators are large, heavy and expensive. CUA and LMSSC have been developing a robust ultra-compact recuperative heat exchanger for Joule-Thomson (JT) cryocoolers using CUA�s sacrificial fiber technology (VascTech). This technology relies on weaving warp sacrificial fibers with weft copper wires to make a 3D structure with excellent counterflow heat exchange, but low parasitic heat conductance. The proposed microcapillary recuperative heat exchanger (MRHX) requires much larger gas flow (for >150 W cooling at 90 K) than the JT recuperator, and the focus of this proposed work will be modifying and scaling up the heat exchanger for Brayton applications. This new recuperator material will reduce the mass and cost of Brayton coolers while offering improved thermal performance. More »

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