Improving Efficiency of Heat Exchangers

Dr. Andrew Sommers recently completed his grant project, “Improving Heat Exchanger Frosting/Defrosting Performance using a Novel Fin Surface Wettability Strategy.”

The grant was funded by the California Energy Commission and was done in conjunction with Dr. Nicole Okamoto of San José State University. The grant award was for $83,000.

When condensation builds up on a typical heat exchanger found in air conditioning units or refrigerators, it can degrade performance and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Dr. Sommers wanted to look at redesigning a roughness pattern on the surface of the heat exchanger to create a region where all of the water could drain and collect.

The goal of the project was to improve energy efficiency: roughly 20% of U.S. energy consumption stems from the heating, cooling, and lighting of buildings. Dr. Sommers hopes that companies may begin producing heat exchangers with his new technology.

Watch Dr. Sommers explain his research in the short video below!

Video edited and article written by Sarah Mattina, student communications assistant