Aiming in the direction of designing high efficiency aircraft engines, various concepts have been developed in recent years, among which is the concept of the intercooled and recuperative aero engine (IRA engine). This concept is based on the use of a system of heat exchangers (recuperator) mounted inside the hot-gas exhaust nozzle, as well as a system of heat exchangers (intercooler) mounted between the intermittent-pressure compressor (IPC) and the high-pressure compressor (HPC) compressor modules. Through the operation of the system of recuperator module, the heat from the exhaust gas, downstream the LP turbine of the aero engine is driven back to the combustion chamber. Thus, the preheated air enters the engine combustion chamber with increased enthalpy, providing higher combustion efficiency and consequently reduced thrust specific fuel consumption (TSFC) and low-level emissions. Additionally, by integrating the intercooler module between the compressor stages of the aero engine, the compressed air is cooled, leading to less required compression work to reach the compressor target pressure and significant improvements can be achieved in the overall engine efficiency and the specific fuel consumption hence, contributing to the reduction of CO2 and NOx emissions.

The present work is focused on the optimization of the performance characteristics of an intercooler specifically designed for aero engine applications, working cooperatively with a novel design recuperator module targeting the reduction of specific fuel consumption and taking into consideration aero engine geometrical constraints and limitations for two separate operating scenarios. The intercooler design was based on the elliptically profiled tubular heat exchanger which was developed and invented by MTU Aero Engines AG. For the specific fuel consumption investigations, the Intercooled Recuperated Aero engine cycle that combines both intercooling and recuperation was considered. The optimization was performed with the development of an intercooler surrogate model, capable to incorporate major geometrical features. A large number of intercooler design scenarios was assessed, in which additional design criteria and constraints were applied. Thus, a significantly large intercooler design space was covered resulting to the identification of feasible designs providing beneficial effect on the Intercooled Recuperated Aero engine performance leading to reduced specific fuel consumption, reduced weight and extended aircraft range.

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