Voxel Based Three-Dimensional Topology Optimization of Heat Exchanger Fins

Bashir S. Mekki, Stephen P. Lynch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Increasing interest in novel aircraft propulsion systems and potential for unwanted heat generation, or capture and reuse of waste heat, may require increasingly lightweight and high performing heat exchangers. Advances in manufacturing technologies have shown potential to create complex designs, but design tools need more flexibility. This study utilizes genetic algorithm-driven topology optimization to develop high performance heat exchanger fins for critical applications such as aerospace. The solid domain is generated using voxel representation where a voxel value of 1 indicates the solid domain and a voxel value of 0 refers to the fluid domain. The use of voxel representation somewhat matches the digitization of a model that is required to fabricate using additive manufacturing, and also allows for a highly unconstrained geometry. To test the topology optimization approach, a three-dimensional (3D) baseline offset strip fin geometry in steady laminar flow (Reynolds number = 215) with conjugate heat transfer (simultaneous solution of solid and fluid temperature fields) is optimized. New designs are generated using the genetic algorithm (GA) and sent to evaluation by the CFD software OpenFOAM; then the GA sorts and selects the reproduction pool for the following generation. This process is repeated for 60 generations. The study also investigates the effect of fin material on the performance of the GA and the resulting designs. The results show that the optimal designs have overall performance improvement of 18% relative to the baseline. Additionally, a fin constructed of a lower conductivity material (such as an Inconel superalloy that might be necessary for waste heat recovery applications) results in lower overall performance improvement (11%) and optimal designs with higher pressure drop relative to their baseline, and relative to optimal designs produced using higher conductivity materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SciTech Forum 2022
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624106316
StatePublished - 2022
EventAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jan 3 2022Jan 7 2022

Publication series

NameAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022


ConferenceAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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