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Utilization of a Graphite Foam Radiator on a Natural Gas Engine-Driven Heat Pump

[+] Author Affiliations
R. D. Ott, A. Zaltash, J. W. Klett

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

Paper No. IMECE2002-33348, pp. 463-467; 5 pages
  • ASME 2002 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Advanced Energy Systems
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, November 17–22, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3626-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-1691-5, 0-7918-1692-3, 0-7918-1693-1
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


A natural gas engine-driven heat pump was outfitted with a graphite foam radiator to demonstrate its thermal efficiency and compare it with that of a conventional radiator. A sequence of tests was performed with the graphite foam radiator operating in series with the standard aluminum radiator. Most aluminum air-to-water radiators exhibit an overall heat transfer coefficient up to 100 W/(m2 ·K). Laboratory experiments have demonstrated that a graphite foam radiator can achieve an overall heat transfer coefficient up to an order of magnitude larger. The mesophase pitch derived graphite foam is a material that offers excellent thermal management capability. The foam has an accessible surface area of 4 m2 /g and an open cell structure with graphitic ligaments aligned parallel to the cell walls, giving it an overall bulk thermal conductivity of up to 175 W/(m·K). The bulk thermal conductivity of aluminum is 180 W/(m·K). The density of the graphite foam is a fifth of that of aluminum and its thermal diffusivity is three times greater than aluminum. These properties allow the graphite foam to be utilized in radiator, or any other heat exchanger, designs that are more efficient than conventional radiators. A graphite foam radiator designed to reject a given amount of heat will be smaller in size, weigh less, require less cooling air, and be quicker at removing heat than a conventional aluminum radiator.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME



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