Boosting Heat Exchanger Performance with modeFRONTIER


Heat exchangers (HE) optimized with modeFRONTIER enable reliable production, easy cleaning and energy-efficient operation and are critical to the design of safe and competitive products.

Heat exchangers are widely used in power generation, chemical processing, electronics cooling, air-conditioning, refrigeration and automotive applications. This has led to an increase in demand for application-specific designs that meet physical constraints as well as performance targets and regulations.


The goal of HE design is to relate the inlet and outlet temperatures, the overall heat transfer coefficient and the geometry of the heat exchanger to the rate of heat transfer.

Choosing the most suitable HE type, size and materials, and its configuration, depends greatly on its specific application as well as on its strengths and weaknesses.

Rating, which includes pumping power and heat transfer rate, is one of the most common HE design problems. Insufficient pumping power is detrimental to pressure drop in that it can lead to additional costs due to poor design. An efficient heat transfer rate relies on fins which are used to decrease thermal resistance - fin geometry and layout being essential to performance.



modeFRONTIER streamlines the HE design process by directly integrating with leading engineering software tools (CFD, thermodynamics, FEM, etc.). It enables designers to explore the values of critical variables such as flow rate, operating pressure, fouling of heat transfer surface, geometry parameters, thermophysical fluid properties, material thermal conductivity and working conditions, and ultimately, to identify the best HE configuration in terms of performance, efficiency and sizing.


A few examples

Modine aimed to optimize HEs based on system/subsystem requirements, such as performance and pressure drop, while improving flow distribution, and reducing weight and cost. Modine’s collaboration was eased by modeFRONTIER’s ability to provide the best out of many designs with automation design exploration.

Polytechnic University of Bari needed to design a high temperature gas-to-gas HE based on solid particles for medium and large-scale combined power plants fed by alternative and dirty fuels such as biomass and fuel. modeFRONTIER helped explore the volume configuration for different pressure ratios and inlet temperatures, allowing the reuse of part of the optimization procedure.

In this project, researchers developed a versatile, innovative methodology for designing virtual HE models that targets performance, materials, weight, size and manufacturability as an alternative to conventional approaches requiring prototyping and physical testing.