In the framework of the European research project LEMCOTEC, a section was devoted to the further optimization of the recuperation system of the Intercooled Recuperated Aero engine (IRA engine) concept, of MTU Aero Engines AG. This concept is based on an advanced thermodynamic cycle combining both intercooling and recuperation. The present work is focused only on the recuperation process. This is carried out through a system of heat exchangers mounted inside the hot-gas exhaust nozzle, providing fuel economy and reduced pollutant emissions. The optimization of the recuperation system was performed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) computations, experimental measurements and thermodynamic cycle analysis for a wide range of engine operating conditions. A customized numerical tool was developed based on an advanced porosity model approach. The heat exchangers were modeled as porous media of predefined heat transfer and pressure loss behaviour and could also incorporate major and critical heat exchanger design decisions in the CFD computations. The optimization resulted in two completely new innovative heat exchanger concepts, named as CORN (COnical Recuperative Nozzle) and STARTREC (STraight AnnulaR Thermal RECuperator), which provided significant benefits in terms of fuel consumption, pollutants emission and weight reduction compared to more conventional heat exchanger designs, thus proving that further optimization potential for this technology exists.
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