Abundant availability and potential for lower CO2 emissions are drivers for increased utilization of natural gas in automotive engines for transportation applications. However scarce refueling resources for on-road vehicles impose an infrastructure limited barrier on natural gas use in transportation. A novel ‘bimodal’ engine which can operate in a compressor mode has been developed that allows on-board refueling of natural gas where available without the need for any supplemental device. Engine compression of natural gas however results in considerable heating of the gas which is undesirable from a system stand-point. Micro-channel heat exchangers have been developed to absorb heat from the natural gas using engine coolant and compressed air. This work presents the design and development of the micro-channel heat exchangers as well as a preliminary analysis of system performance. Design methodology for the heat exchanger was based on trade-off studies that correlated system performance with component design. Energy flows through the system are analyzed as a function of engine compression ratio, operating speed, charge flow rate, and ambient air and natural gas conditions. These results are further used to estimate heat transfer co-efficient and effectiveness of the micro-channel heat exchanger. Future work involves developing CFD models of the heat exchanger to obtain a detailed understanding of the conjugate heat transfer and fluid flow processes within the micro-channels.

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