Manifold-microchannel combinations used on heat transfer surfaces have shown the potential for superior heat transfer performance to pressure drop ratio when compared to chevron type corrugations for plate heat exchangers (PHE) [1–4]. However, compared with heat transfer enhancements such as intermating troughs and Chevron corrugations, manifold-microchannels (MM) have several times more variables that influence the heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics, including microchannel width, depth, passes, manifold depth, width, and manifold fin thickness. Previous work has reported on the effects of some of the variables, and provides some models for their effects on thermal and hydraulic performance. The current paper presents a genetic algorithm (GA)-based procedure to analyze the implicit effects of some of the manifold-microchannel variables, and compare the performance of manifold-microchannel plate heat exchangers to those using standard Chevron corrugations. The objective of the present work is to evaluate the performance of manifold-microchannel heat transfer enhancements and demonstrate the potential for using GA-based procedure to optimize the heat exchanger.

This paper also presents the modifications of the standard GA algorithm when applied to the optimization of MM. The resulting GA procedure is particularly well suited to PHEs for several reasons, including the fact that it does not require continuous variables or functional dependence on the design variables. In addition, the computational effort required for the GA technique in our implementation scales linearly, with a scaling coefficient that is significantly less than one, making it economical to analyze PHEs with several variables with degrees of freedom (DOF) with respect to the fitness function. The results of optimizing a manifold-microchannel plate heat exchanger are presented, and the exchanger’s performance is compared to more conventional PHE of the same volume utilizing chevron corrugations. Finally, results from the empirical procedure presented in this paper for a manifold-microchannel are compared with experimental measurements in Andhare [5].

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