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Exploratory of Aluminium Printed Circuit Heat Exchangers

Fri, 05 May, 2023

Within the transport sector, and encompassing the automotive, aerospace, naval and defence sectors, there is currently a strong drive towards Net Zero, increased efficiency, light-weighting and miniaturisation. As these goals are met, efficient exchange of heat becomes a real challenge and a compromise typically has to be made driven by space, weight and efficiency. However, heat exchanger technology that meets these goals exists in the form of printed circuit heat exchangers (PCHEs), where a stack of machined or photo-chemically etched shims, which contain channel geometries, are stacked and joined together using the diffusion bonding (DB) process. Such devices are commonly made from ferrous and nickel-based alloys and, whilst the more compact nature of the PCHE does reduce the effective mass, the ability to make these out of lower density alloys, such as aluminium alloys, will be highly advantageous.

TWI are embarking on an innovative research and development project, funded under the TWI’s Exploratory Programme, to further develop Al-alloy PCHEs, using Al-6082 as a demonstration case. By developing these, using our DB facility, TWI will be able to help fulfil an industrial need.

The initial phase will involve the design of a simplified, scaled-down but representative PCHE demonstrator. The TWI team will then work with an industrial partner to develop and procure the photochemically etched shims required for the diffusion bonding trials and then carry out diffusion bonding trials to develop the process parameters, assessed using tensile testing and metallography.

As this project develops, further information will be presented, however, if there are any immediate queries, please feel free to get in contact with us.

For more information, please email:

For more information please email: