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Efficient, Low-cost Microchannel Heat Exchanger

University of Colorado

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Technology Marketing Summary

A research team at the University of Colorado has developed a novel heat exchanger design and accompanying manufacturing technique for creating low-cost microchannel heat exchangers from plastics, metals, or ceramics. The prototype used laser welding (upper red lines at right). Expansion makes “chessboard” counter flow pattern (lower right). The figure below shows mass production, where sheets are added one at a time and welded with a mask and filament (left) or laser (right). The process could also use inkjet printing of adhesives or acoustic welding. After joining, the sheets are cut up into pieces, expanded, and fixed in shape by insulation.


Optimization results for this device indicate that the new heat exchanger will not only be much more efficient, but will also be manufactured at a much lower cost. This novel microchannel counter-current or cross flow design can be used as a replacement for all kinds of heat exchangers including tubular, plate, spiral, plate-fin, tube-fin, heat pipe, perforated plate, and heat wheel. The near term applications would be non-gas (liquid or phase change) heat transfer because these would have the greatest cost advantage.

  • Lower pumping power required (laminar flow)
  • Lighter weight (for vehicles and shipping costs)
  • Smaller size (for vehicles and shipping costs)
  • Longer life (laminar flow reduces erosion)
  • Reduced noise (of heat exchanger and pump)
Applications and Industries
  • Vehicles (transmission & engine oil coolers, marine water cooled radiators)
  • Buildings (chillers, cooling towers, heat pump water heaters)
  • Conventional power plants (condensers, cooling towers)
  • Industrial processes (pasteurization, desalination, cryogenics)
  • Renewable energy (concentrated solar power, residential solar hot water, (geothermal power plants, solar water pasteurization)
  • Other applications (liquid-cooled electronics for aerospace)
More Information

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20120291991
A microchannel heat exchanger (800) is manufactured by bonding a first sheet (802a) of material and a second sheet (802b) of material in a first connection pattern for integral formation of a core portion (801) and a manifold portion (808) for the first and second sheets (802a, 802b) of material. A third sheet (802c) of material is then superposed on to the second sheet (802b) of material and bonded in a second connection pattern to the second sheet of material for integral formation of the core portion (801) and the manifold portion (808) for the second and third sheets (802b, 802c) of material. The second and third sheets (802b, 802c) of material are bonded without bonding the second sheet (802b) of the material to the first sheet (802a) of material. The core portion (801) and the manifold portion (808) of the heat exchanger (800) are thus integrally created. The interstices between the first, second, and third sheets (802a, 802b, 802c) of material are then expanded to create fluid flow channels (806). This method can also be used to create a heat sink. The bonding method may be a form of laser welding where an opaque sheet absorbs the laser energy and the heat conducts through the top sheet to the sheet immediately below, but does not cause bonding with subsequent sheets below.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
CU2189BPrototypeAvailable - Available for partnering.08/30/201010/17/2013

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To: Lola Underwood<>