Plastic mesoscale combustors / heat exchangers

Lindsay L. Sanford, Chien Shung Lin, Jeongmin Ahn, Shuo Yu J. Huang, Jungmin Lee, Paul D. Ronney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution


Recent experimental and theoretical studies of heat-recirculating combustors have demonstrated the importance of thermal conduction through the structure of the combustor on its performance. In particular, this solid-phase heat conduction inevitably degrades performance via transfer of heat out of the reaction zone to the surrounding structure, which is then lost to ambient. This in turn leads to a reduction of reaction temperature and thus sustainable reaction rates. By use of platinum-based catalysts in spiral counterflow "Swiss roll" heat-recirculating combustors, we have been able to sustain nearly complete combustion of propane-air mixtures at temperatures less than 150°C using combustors built with titanium (thermal conductivity (k) of 7 W/m°C). Such low temperatures suggest that high-temperature polymers (e.g. polyimides, k ∼ 0.3 W/m°C) may be employed as a combustor material. With this motivation, a polyimide Swiss roll combustor was built using CNC milling and tested over a range of Reynolds numbers with propane fuel and Pt catalyst. The combustor survived prolonged testing at temperatures up to 450°C. Reynolds numbers as low as 2 supported combustion, with thermal power as low as 3 watts and temperatures as low as 72°C. These initial results suggest that polymer combustors may prove more practical for mesoor microscale thermochemical devices due to their lower thermal conductivity and ease of manufacturing. Applications to electric power generation via single-chamber solid oxide fuel cells are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnergy Systems
Subtitle of host publicationAnalysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)0791843009, 9780791843000
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2007 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: Nov 11 2007Nov 15 2007

Publication series

NameASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings


ConferenceASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2007
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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