New counter flow heat exchanger designed for ventilation systems in cold climates

Jesper Kragh, Jørgen Rose, Toke Rammer Nielsen, Svend Svendsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In cold climates, mechanical ventilation systems with highly efficient heat recovery will experience problems with condensing water from the extracted humid indoor air. If the condensed water changes to ice in the heat exchanger, the airflow rate will quickly fall due to the increasing pressure drop. Preheating the inlet air (outdoor air) to a temperature above 0 degrees C before it enters the exchanger is one solution often used to solve the problem, however, this method reduces the energy saving potential significantly. To minimize the energy cost, a more efficient way to solve the freezing problem is therefore desirable. In this paper, the construction and test measurements of a new counter flow heat exchanger designed for cold climates are presented. The developed heat exchanger is capable of continuously defrosting itself without using supplementary heating. Other advantages of the developed beat exchanger are low pressure loss, cheap materials and a simple construction. The disadvantage is that the exchanger is big compared with other heat exchangers. In this paper, the new heat exchanger's efficiency is calculated theoretically and measured experimentally. The experiment shows that the heat exchanger is capable of continuously defrosting itself at outside air temperatures well below the freezing point while still maintaining a very high efficiency. Further analysis and development of a detailed simulation model of a counter flow air-to-air heat exchanger will be described in future articles.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1151-1158
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • ventilation
  • energy consumption and cold climates
  • counter flow heat exchanger
  • defrosting
  • heat recovery unit

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