Topology optimization of two fluid heat exchangers

Lukas Christian Høghøj*, Daniel Ruberg Nørhave, Joe Alexandersen, Ole Sigmund, Casper Schousboe Andreasen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A method for density-based topology optimization of heat exchangers with two fluids is proposed. The goal of the optimization process is to maximize the heat transfer from one fluid to the other, under maximum pressure drop constraints for each of the fluids. A single design variable is used to describe the physical fields. The solid interface and the fluid domains are generated using an erosion-dilation based identification technique, which guarantees well-separated fluids, as well as a minimum wall thickness between them. Under the assumption of laminar steady flow, the two fluids are modelled separately, but in the entire computational domain using the Brinkman penalization technique for ensuring negligible velocities outside of the respective fluid subdomains. The heat transfer is modelled using the convection-diffusion equation, where the convection is driven by both fluid flows. A stabilized finite element discretization is used to solve the governing equations. Results are presented for two different problems: a two-dimensional case illustrating and verifying the methodology; and a three-dimensional case inspired by shell-and-tube heat exchangers. The optimized designs for both cases show an improved heat transfer compared to the baseline designs. For the shell-and-tube case, the full freedom topology optimization approach is shown to yield performance improvements of up to 113% under the same pressure drop.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120543
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Topology Optimization
  • Heat Exchanger
  • Interface identification
  • Forced Convection
  • Multiphysics optimization


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