New Simulations Compare MicroGroove Directly to Best-in-Class MicroChannel, Says International Copper Association

Research Surveys Design Space for RTPF Coils Made with Smaller Diameter Copper Tubes, with Goal to Match the Performance of the Best Aluminum MicroChannel Product

New York, NY (July 12, 2012) — The International Copper Association today announced a new research project that aims to raise the bar on coil design by comparing optimized round tube plate fin (RTPF) coils with smaller diameter copper tubes with the best aluminum coils in the marketplace.

Conventional coils made with round copper tubes and aluminum plate fins benefit from manufacturing processes and assembly techniques that are widely known and familiar in the ACR industry. However, new technologies have evolved in recent years to meet demands for energy efficiency systems using eco-friendly refrigerants.  In particular, MicroGroove technology consists of smaller diameter copper tubes with enhanced surfaces. Both features contribute to improve rates of heat transfer between the refrigerant and the tube walls. Given a set of performance criteria, an RTPF heat exchanger made with smaller diameter tubes can be made smaller and lighter than one made with conventional tubes. 

Now new research also compares a RTPF heat exchanger with a brazed-aluminum multichannel (BAM) heat exchanger.  Until now, there have been few studies comparing MicroGroove technology directly with aluminum MicroChannel technology. For that reason, the ICA sponsored a research project with Exel Consulting and Optimized Thermal Systems to allow for meaningful comparisons of the performance of these disparate systems.

The method of comparison is simple. A search was made for a state-of-the-art, best-in-class BAM heat exchanger. The performance specifications were then identified and set as a target for the RTPF heat-exchanger. The design space was searched for candidate RTPF designs that met the performance specification. The simulations were performed at Optimized Thermal Systems, College Park, Maryland and the research results will be presented this month at the Purdue Conferences in a paper titled "Simulation-Based Comparison of Optimized AC Coils Using Small Diameter Copper and Aluminum Microchannel Tubes" by John Hipchen, Robert Weed, Ming Zhang and Dennis Nasuta.

"It is possible today to perform objective simulations comparing the cooling capacity and material content of MicroGroove and MicroChannel coils for optimized systems," said Dr. Reinhard Radermacher, CEO of Optimized Thermal Systems. "This latest research is considered vital by many system designers who wish to compare the best RTPF designs directly with the best BAM designs in terms of size, weight and refrigerant charge reduction," says Nigel Cotton, MicroGroove Team Leader for the International Copper Association. "Other factors such as manufacturing costs, durability and drainage may prove equally important if not more important when selecting a heat exchanger for any particular application."

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About ICA

The International Copper Association, Ltd. (ICA) is the leading organization for promoting the use of copper worldwide. ICA’s mission is to promote the use of copper by communicating the unique attributes that make this sustainable element an essential contributor to the formation of life, to advances in science and technology, and to a higher standard of living worldwide. Visit for more information about ICA.