Research & Development
Team of experts
The Research and Development department has a team of experts who are available worldwide as points of contact for their colleagues and also for our customers and suppliers.
The range of tasks includes
- the development of new forms of heat exchanger, components and manufacturing processes
- the production and development of software for sizing coolers
- the development of heat exchangers for new areas of application
If required, an existing design may be further improved with modern simulation tools with regard to its heating technology, flow configuration and useful life.
Once the structure of a new heat exchanger has been created, AKG can build its own prototypes in its in-house Sample Manufacturing department.
There is a wide range of measuring and testing equipment available for final certification.
AKG’s own software for calculating performance and useful life is supplemented with modern simulation software.
With the aid of digital flow simulation, the individual components of a heat exchanger are optimised in terms of flow characteristics and intense heat transfer.
And the optimum incorporation of a cooling system into the customer’s installation space, which often goes beyond what is included in the delivery, is frequently a part of the development work.
But what is equally important is ensuring that mechanical durability conforms with product requirements. AKG’s software for forecasting useful life is supplemented here with FEM calculations so as to allow critical component loads due to high pressure, temperature fluctuations and vibrations to be reliably determined.
Research and Development also includes Sample Manufacturing, in which most just-developed coolers become a practical product for the first time. There, in addition to familiar forms of cooler design, experienced sample manufacturers produce completely new designs so as to be able to subject them to initial practical tests.
The range of heat exchangers built at AKG covers everything from heat exchangers only a few cubic centimetres in size for portable fuel cells to cooling systems for the biggest construction machinery in the world.
Measuring and testing equipment
Despite comprehensive calculations, in the context of the approval of a new cooling system it is often necessary to investigate its actual performance.
In particular, studies of useful life are often necessary since the specifications of modern high-performance coolers often push the materials available to their limits.
Numerous devices are available for:
- Pressure change tests (low pressure, high pressure)
- Temperature change tests for liquid and gaseous media
- Vibration tests for excitation in one or three spatial dimensions
- Corrosion tests
For the measurement of performance there are various wind tunnels available in which cooler systems with outputs of between a few kilowatts and several hundred kilowatts can be thermodynamically characterised. The range of available media including water/glycol, oil and intake air covers the commonest operating substances for our coolers.
Performance measurement in cooling systems with built-in fans is as a rule supplemented by a check on noise emissions. Both acoustic pressure and sound power when operating may be measured.
In addition, special studies are often required for which, if necessary, new testing equipment is also specially developed and built.
Our portable measurement technology is often also used to record the conditions of use and operating parameters in the field together with the customer. Measurements of temperature and pressure are often supplemented by acoustic measurements and thermographic imaging. In the event of unclear mechanical loads on components in use, from time to time they are also recorded directly with accelerometers or strain gauges in order to derive realistic specifications from them.
For all new applications that still require heavy involvement of the Research and Development department, product development takes place mainly in that department. AKG often collaborates directly with universities or other research establishments.
AKG has traditionally been involved with applications with fuel cells, which is why AKG coolers are to be found in numerous innovative fuel cell applications.
In these days of ever more fuel-efficient internal combustion engines, waste heat has now become a source of energy which in fact it would be a pity to release to the environment unused via various coolers. So AKG also works on the development of heat exchangers that use the waste heat as a source for further applications.
Public research activities
HYBUILD focuses on the development of two innovative compact hybrid electrical/thermal storage systems for stand-alone and district connected buildings.
The project aims at developing cost-effective and environmental-friendly solutions, while ensuring comfort conditions in residential buildings located in two different climates: Mediterranean climate where cooling is critical; and Continental climate where a stronger focus is put on heating demand.
The project is led by the Spanish group COMSA Corporación and it associates 21 partners from 11 EU countries. It started in October 2017 and is running for 4 years. The project was selected as part of the Energy-efficient Buildings Public-Private partnership.
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Motivation and Impact
Energy storage is a key component in providing flexibility and supporting renewable energy.
Integration in the energy system and can efficiently contribute to the decarbonisation of buildings. A promising research area is to exploit compact hybrid energy storage systems for covering space heating and/or cooling, Domestic Hot Water, and electricity demand. The overall impact is to enhance energy savings, leading to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel utilization, thus contributing to the EU energy security.
HYBUILD will contribute to produce robust and innovative energy storage solutions presenting the following characteristics and advantages:
- Cost-effectiveness supported by advanced economic and business model for investors;
- High replicability potential to ensure an important market penetration;
- Easy integration (compact solutions) into existing buildings/systems;
- Extended solution life time;
- Superior energy performance contributing to the overall energy system flexibility;
- Reduction of building energy consumption and greenhouse gases.
HYBUILD innovations will be validated in three demo sites in Almatret (Spain), Aglantzia Municipality (Cyprus) and Bordeaux (France).
Role of AKG
The air conditioning systems for the Mediterranean climate will be based on an adsorption refrigeration system based on zeolite. The heat exchangers holding the zeolite as well as the corresponding evaporators and condensers will be developed and manufactured by AKG.
For Continental climate heat pump systems will be used to generate heat. AKG will also contribute to the development of the evaporator and condenser for the heat pump system.
The thermal storage systems will be based on heat exchangers combining refrigerant, water and phase change material (PCM), which will be supplied by AKG. These systems can be directly charged with the refrigerant from the heat pump. For the cold storage a similar system will be directly linked to the adsorption refrigeration system.
Similar heat exchangers with two fluids and PCM are currently supplied by AKG for refrigeration drying of compressed air.