Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Liquid crystal polymer plate heat exchanger

The purpose of the project was to seek an innovative design of a compact, plate-type heat exchanger using a new polymer substance, known as liquid crystal polymer (LCP), pure or in alloy form, capable of working at temperatures between 200 and 250 C.

The research consisted principally of 3 parts: setting-up of the heat exchanger test bed and installation of the plate-type, LCP prototype heat exchanger; testing of the thermal and mechanical properties of different LCP formulations, under varying types and concentrations of working fluid; carrying out a feasibility study to compare the specific costs of an LCP heat exchanger to that of a metal one. A comparison was made between LCP tubular- and LCP plate-type configurations, and between LCP tubular-type configurations and plate-type heat exchangers using various types of metals.

Despite the LCPs' promising thermal and mechanical properties, the results of the tests showed that the chemical resistance of different LCP formulations were not high enough to satisfy conditions where corrosive fluids at high temperatures (above 120 C) and high concentrations prevail. Also, while LCPs displayed a high resistance at low temperatures (below 100 C) and low concentrations to certain corrosive acids, there are already a large number of available plastic materials which have very high chemical resistance and are cheaper. Finally, further development of LCPs is limited by the much greater heat conductivity achieved by metals in industrial-sized applications. While LCPs have promising thermal and mechanical properties, and cost advantages, it is clear that the low heat conductivity of LCPs for liquid-liquid heat exchangers as compared to metals is what will most severely limit their development in the foreseeable future. Research in these new materials is likely to continue, though, because of the size of the potential economic benefits.

Reported by

Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique
17, rue des Martyrs
38054 Grenoble
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