Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering



Exploring Microchannel Heat Exchange through Numerical Optimization and Additive Manufacturing


Ms. Kathryn Kirsch


Pennsylvania State University


Friday, March 17, 2017 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Woodruff School Graduate Women


Continued progress in additive manufacturing (AM) technology has positive implications for those in the design community. The choice to employ AM instantly lifts many design constraints imposed by conventional manufacturing techniques, thereby opening the design space considerably. The choice as to what exactly should be designed, however, can be overwhelming; finding an optimal solution is a task well-suited to numerical simulations. To inform the discussion on the relationship between AM and numerics-based design tools, a set of micro- sized cooling channels were designed, numerically optimized, additively manufactured and tested for pressure loss and heat transfer performance. This talk will include details on the chosen optimization scheme, an adjoint-based optimization method, and the resultant manufactured parts, which were built using Laser Powder Bed Fusion, a specific type of AM process. The optimized, organically-inspired microchannel shapes were designed to promote strong vortical structures to enhance the heat transfer. The manufactured microchannels replicated the intended shapes relatively well, but contained large, irregular roughness features as a result of the manufacturing process. Experimental results showed mixed success in the performance of the channels relative to their intended designs. The advantages and drawbacks of this design procedure will be discussed from the perspective of both the computational and manufacturing approaches. This work aims to contribute knowledge to the heat transfer community on consequences of design decisions as they relate to an as-built AM part and to lend some insight into design for additive manufacturing at the micro-level.


Kathryn Kirsch is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State University. She received her B.S. (2011) and M.S. (2013) degrees from Penn State as well, also in Mechanical Engineering. In between her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, she spent time as a visiting researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, with research interests in the field of heat transfer and additive manufacturing. She is currently involved in the ASME International Gas Turbine Institute (IGTI) as past chair of a committee to plan student activities and increase student involvement in the Institute’s annual conference, Turbo Expo. She recently received a best paper award from the IGTI. She also founded Penn State’s Engineering Young Alumni Advisory Board and was awarded the Joan M. McLane Recent Alumna Award by the Penn State Alumni Association in 2014.