New Inventions Brought Forth by Simulation-Based Engineering

Phil Kinnane | May 31, 2012
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You may already be familiar with large regenerative heat exchanger (RHX) systems, but what about much smaller micro-channel systems? That’s just the type of invention the research teams at Intellectual Ventures (IV) are working on.

Schematic representation of a unit flow loop in the micro-channel counter-current RHX device

Intellectual Ventures, located in Bellevue, WA, sustains its business by providing other companies with advanced technology inventions. In order to do so they must first, of course, create inventions — which is what they do in their invention/prototype lab: Intellectual Ventures Laboratory (IVL). Something the IVL culinary sciences lab has been working on is the invention of a new micro-channel counter-current RHX system. Although large RHX systems have already been developed, because of this new system’s small size, engineers cannot rely on existing knowledge of traditional heat exchangers. In order to see what the effect of primary design variables are on the device performance as well as interpreting the results they get from physical prototypes, the researchers at IVL use COMSOL Multiphysics.

When are RHXs used? They’re used in high-temperature systems where part of the system’s fluid is taken out of the main process and then brought back in the opposite direction for additional processing. The fluid extracted from the main system is used to regenerate, or reheat, the returning fluid instead of being expelled into an external cooling medium. In other words, the same fluid acts as both the cooling fluid and the cooled fluid. With its high heat-recapture efficiency, the micro-channel RHX will process a liquid stream thermally.

Read more about Intellectual Ventures and the creation of the micro-channel RHX in the COMSOL News article “Simulation-Based Engineering Fosters Innovation and Invention” (on page 44).

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