Open cell metal foam offers an interesting combination of materials properties from a heat exchanger point of view such as a high specific surface area, tortuous flow paths for flow mixing and low weight. A heat exchanger design with metal foams is studied in this work, aimed at low airside pressure drop. It consists of a single row of Al tubes covered with thin layers (4–8 mm) of metal foam. Through wind tunnel testing the impact of various parameters on the thermo-hydraulic performance was considered, including the Reynolds number, the tube spacing, the foam height and the type of foam. The results indicated that if a good metallic bonding between the foam and the tubes can be achieved, metal foam covered tubes with a small tube spacing, small foam heights and made of foam with a high specific surface area potentially offer strong benefits at higher air velocities (> 4 m/s) compared to helically finned tubes. The bonding was done by conductive epoxy glue and was found to have a strong impact on the final results, showing a strong need for a cost-effective and efficient brazing process to connect metal foams to the tube surfaces.

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