MQ-9B to Get New 3D- Printed Fuel Oil Heat Exchanger
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) is working with long-time collaborator Conflux Technology on the design and manufacture of a new Fuel Oil Heat Exchanger (FOHE) for the MQ-9B. GA-ASI is developing this enhanced thermal solution for its MQ-9B SkyGuardian® and SeaGuardian® Remotely Piloted Aircraft.
GA-ASI is a leading developer of unmanned aircraft, and Conflux is a thermal management system solution company headquartered in Australia. Conflux is a pioneer in mastering Additive Manufacturing (AM) for heat exchanger applications. The two companies have worked together since 2018 to develop heat exchangers for aerospace.
“GA-ASI wants to optimize and augment the performance of our current units by minimizing the differential pressure across the FOHE,” said Stephen Eiting, vice president of Manufacturing Operations for GA-ASI. “We want to maximize the overall heat extraction capacity, while looking for opportunities to lower the mass and volume of the FOHE.”
Another GA-ASI objective is to develop an AM heat exchanger design that can be 3D printed, post-processed, and bench-tested. As part of this most recent purchase order, Conflux will produce a fully functional prototype unit that can be tested by GA-ASI.
The two companies have worked on four different AM projects since 2018. Most recently the two teams have leveraged AM to develop a cold plate heat exchanger (HX) that provides additional cooling capacity for its high-dissipation Line-Replaceable Unit (LRU) used in various GA-ASI’s UAS platforms.