Conference Year



heat exchanger, heat transfer enhancement, shape optimization, topology optimization


Air-to-refrigerant heat exchangers (HXs) have been the topic of exhaustive research as they are fundamental components of HVAC&R systems. It has been well-established that the large airside thermal resistance dominates the HX thermal resistance, and thus significant research efforts have focused on improving the air-side performance of these heat exchangers. As HXs continue to become more compact, thermal resistance reduction is typically realized through the utilization of extended secondary heat transfer surfaces such as fins. However, past research has shown that the thermal-hydraulic trade-offs provided by fins are often not attractive enough to warrant their use, especially for small diameter tubes. Yet, the inadequate primary surface area provided by compact HXs essentially mandate the necessity of fins to meet thermal resistance requirements. In recent years, advancements in computational tools such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and optimization algorithms, coupled with the advent of additive manufacturing technologies, have allowed engineers to expand conventional HX design ideologies to include such concepts as shape and topology optimization. This lends itself directly to primary heat transfer surface optimization and even the potential removal of finned surfaces altogether. This paper presents a comprehensive literature review investigating air-to-refrigerant HX shape and topology optimization. The fundamentals of both shape and topology optimization, model development, and experimental validations are all separately discussed. Studies featuring manufactured prototypes and/or experimentally validated optimal designs are treated with additional emphasis. This paper concludes by identifying key research gaps and proposing future research directions for HX shape and topology optimization.