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Structural Thermal Management by Friction Stir Channelling

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Tue, 02 July, 2019

Thermal management is a critical area in the development of future transport systems. Heat generation in vehicles is increasing due to the expansion of electronic functionality. In parallel, the demand for more powerful propulsion systems is often limited by the ability to dissipate waste heat without resorting to extra complexity and mass. This is driving a demand for new approaches to thermal management. Heat transfer solutions are required to be more efficient, compact and lighter, while remaining cost-effective.

Stationary shoulder friction stir channelling is an innovative solid-state process for integrating sub-surface networks in aluminium structures. One of the most promising industrial applications is the manufacture of heat exchangers. The feasibility of the process was already demonstrated during two TWI exploratory projects, placing the technology readiness at level 3.

TWI plans to conduct a joint industry project to further mature SSFSW towards TRL 4, i.e. producing and testing realistic prototypes in laboratory conditions. TWI Member companies sponsoring this programme will be able to steer the development of a new manufacturing process towards their immediate requirements and product development.

Some of the potential thermal management applications identified include:

  • Production of electric vehicle battery trays featuring integral cooling channels, an alternative to the conventional approach, which relies on accessory pipework
  • Integration of active cooling in casings for electric motors
  • Addition of heat dissipation networks to jet engine nacelles
  • Production of anti-icing features on wings and flight control surfaces for aircraft
  • Reducing heat signature of vehicle bodies
  • Active cooling of data servers, communication infrastructure or radar installations

Other potential applications have also been identified:

  • Networks for lubrication or hydraulics
  • Weight-reduction technique (manufacture of hollow panels or lightweight structures)
  • Embedding instrumentation (structural health monitoring or communication)

A project launch meeting will be held at TWI on 17 September 2019 to discuss and refine the content of the project.

More information on this project can be found here.

Please see here for further information on how a Joint Industry Project runs.

Cooling plate demonstrator (a) General view
Cooling plate demonstrator (a) General view
Cooling plate demonstrator (b) Infrared thermal imaging evidencing circulation of liquid coolant through heated plate demonstrator
Cooling plate demonstrator (b) Infrared thermal imaging evidencing circulation of liquid coolant through heated plate demonstrator

For more information please email:


contactus@twi.co.uk