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Micro heat exchangers, Micro-scale heat exchangers, or microstructured heat exchangers are heat
exchangers in which (at least one) fluid flows in lateral confinements with typical dimensions below
1 mm. The most typical such confinement are microchannels, which are channels with a hydraulic
diameter below 1 mm. Microchannel heat exchangers can be made from metal, ceramic. Micro-channel
heat exchanger(MCHX) has been increasingly applied in HVAC&R(Heating, Ventilation, and Air
Conditioning & Refrigeration) field due to its higher efficiently heat transfer rate, more compact structure,
lower cost.


Heat exchanger with reliable and high performance has been the study focus of the refrigeration and air
conditioning system. In recent years, with increasing demand for lightweight and rising copper prices,
copper substitution is also a widespread concern. Under the premise of meeting the heat exchange
remand, micro-channel heat exchanger can reduce equipment weigh, improve the device compact. The
manufacturing costs can be reduced and the product competitiveness can be improved by using
aluminums. Micro-channel heat exchanger has been extensive researched and applied in cooling of
electronic equipment. Along with the improving of process technology, micro-channel technology is
gradually used in household air conditioning and automotive air conditioning system. The concept of
micro-channel heat exchanger was first proposed and used by Tuckerman and Pease in 1981.Micro-
channel heat exchanger is defined by Mehendale.S.S as if the hydraulic diameter of heat exchanger is
less than 1mm. Micro-channel heat exchangers for heat exchanging between two different fluids was
first developed out by the Swift in 1985. To meet the rapid development of modern microelectronic
mechanical requirements of heat transfer, micro-channel heat exchangers began to be used in cooling
high-density electronic devices in the 1980s, then appeared in the MEMS(microelectronic mechanics
system) industry in the 1990s.

This technology exploits enhanced heat transfer resulting from structurally constraining streams to flow
in microchannels, which reduces resistance to transferring heat. Fluid flowing through the channels on a
plate evaporates or condenses, and heat is transferred. Micro heat exchangers have been demonstrated
with high convective heat transfer coefficients ranging form 10,000 to 35,000 watts/m2-°C, or about
one order of magnitude higher than typically seen in conventional heat exchangers with very low
pressure drops, typically 1 or 2 psi. The basic operating principle of these devices goes back to the
convective heat transfer within the flows of the microchannels. The convective heat transfer equation is:


In this equation h is the heat transfer coefficient of the microscale heat exchanger, Nu is the Nusselt
number which is about 3.65, k is the thermal conductivity of the working fluid and d is the diameter of
the microchannel which the fluid flows through. From this equation one can tell see how the size of the
channel directly affects the heat transfer coefficient of the heat exchanger, as the diameter is decreased
the heat transfer coefficient increases.

Applications of Microscale Heat Exchangers:

Microscale heat exchangers are being used to help along the development of fuel cells. The compact
microchannel fuel vaporizer (CMFV), which is a microscale heat exchanger, is a main component of a
microchannel fuel processor that will hopefully enable fuel cell powered vehicles. Conventional heat
exchangers are too large to be used in this application, nor can they deliver the kind of performance
needed in this application. The microscale heat exchanger is also making possible a portable fuel cell
power supply. This power supply could make batteries obsolete. It will have a longer run time than a
battery of comparable weight. It could also be used in place of portable generators that operate with an
internal combustion engine. These fuel cells would operate more quietly and with a greater efficiency
than an engine driven generator. Problems with refueling a generator in a remote location could also be
solved be this new portable fuel cell.

Currently used in these Industries:

• Automotive
• Commercial and Residential Heating/Cooling
• Aircrafts
• Manufacturing
• Cooling Electronics


In recent years, micro-channel heat exchanger has been more widely applied in the refrigeration and air
conditioning industry and researches related to such theory and problem has attracted the world-wide
attention. Before designing the micro-channel, the pressure loss and heat transfer characteristics must
be accurately predicted, while the theoretical basis which can accurately guide the design is not yet
mature and there is no uniform industry standard in manufacturing. However, it is believed that with
the study of micro-channel heat exchanger performances in-depth, optimization of heat transfer
structure and existing problems in manufacturing and applications will be resolved, micro-channel heat
exchanger will be more widely used.