Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Jin Tso


This report details an approach to using metal foam heat exchangers inside an integrated thermal management system on a variable cycle engine. The propulsion system of interest is a variable cycle engine with an auxiliary, variable flow rate fan. The feasibility of utilizing an open-celled metallic foam heat exchanger in the ducting between the constant and variable-fans on this variable cycle engine to cool the avionics was explored using an experimental approach. Two heat exchangers, 6.3 inch width by 6.3 inch length by 0.5 inch thickness, were constructed from 20 and 40 pores per inch (PPI) metal foam and tested. Both were constructed using 6061-T6 aluminum open-cell metal foam with a relative density of 8% and brazed using 4047 aluminum braze to 0.02 inch thick sheet metal made of 6061-T6 aluminum. Both models were subjected to internal forced convection using heated air with flow rates of 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM). They were also subjected to external forced convection using blowers to supply cooling air to simulate the variable cycle engine’s fans. One duct was supplied with a constant 34 ft/s cooling flow, while the other cooling flow velocity was varied between 0% and 100% of this 34 ft/s, in 25% increments. The temperature and pressure of the flow internal to the metal foam, as well as the heat exchanger external surface and cold flow temperatures, were recorded. A hot-flow Reynolds number range of 1,300 to 6,400 was tested.

Results showed expected trends for the hydraulic performance of both heat exchangers. The form factors were 50.4 and 54.8 ft^-1 and the permeabilities were 9.11E-7 and 6.32E-7 ft^2 for the 20 and 40 PPI heat exchangers, respectively. Due to a defect on one side of the 40 PPI heat exchanger, the thermal results are based only on the 20 PPI heat exchanger. While the present study examines a different metal foam heat transfer configuration than most other studies, the metal foam Nusselt numbers were comparable to past studies. In addition, the pumping power required was not excessive and would allow the thermal management system to be realized without an unreasonable energy input. Therefore, a metal foam heat exchanger integrated within the ducting of a variable cycle engine is deemed feasible. The pumping power and thermal resistance were used to create a performance predicting model of the 20 PPI heat exchanger. From this model, the optimized 20 PPI heat exchanger has a hot-flow rate of 10.5 SCFM. The resulting pumping power and thermal resistance are estimated to be 6.7 BTU/hr and 0.036 °R/(BTU/hr), respectively.