Design and manufacturing of more efficient heat exchangers
In the frame of ELECSOL, an IBEROEKA collaborative project performed by Asturian and Mexican companies, the objective of IDESA and PRODINTEC was to design a more efficient system for the generation of energy from the sun.
This system comprises a tank, which contains a material (molten glass) that changes from solid to liquid due to the heat of sun concentrated through a Fresnel lens (allowing energy to be stored throughout the day), a Stirling engine that drives an electric generator, and a heat exchanger connecting both elements to remove the heat stored in the tank and transfer it to the Stirling engine.
When designing the heat exchanger, an optimized geometry for maximum energy efficiency was chosen, without having to take into account manufacturing constraints, since additive manufacturing can produce any geometry, no matter how complex it is.
Thus, a fully functional part made in Inconel (to withstand the high temperatures reached) was obtained, with a streamlined design, smaller volume and lower weight, and without the problems associated with machining of Inconel.