New preparation methods for coated heat exchangers in adsorption refrigeration and heat pumps applications

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Adsorption refrigeration systems and heat pumps still possess a relatively reduced market share as compared to the traditional compression systems. Despite having the great advantage of being powered by cheap heat (instead of expensive electric work), the implementation of systems based on adsorption principles remains limited to few specific applications. The main drawback that needs to be solved is their reduced specific power due to the low thermal conductivity and low stability of the adsorbents. The current state of the art of commercial adsorption cooling systems rely on adsorbers based on coated finned heat exchangers to optimize the cooling power. It is a well known result, that the reduction of the thickness of the coating derives in a reduction of the mass transport impedance, and that the increment of the ratio surface to volume of conductive structures increases the power without reducing the efficiency. The metallic fibres used in this work can offer a ratio of specific surface in the range of 2500-50,000 m(2)/m(3).Three methods of preparing very thin but stable salt-hydrate coatings on metallic surfaces, including metallic fibres, for the production of coated heat exchangers with high specific power, are presented for the first time. A surface treatment based on aluminium anodizing was chosen to create a stronger bond between coat and substrate. The microscopic structure of the resulting surface was analysed by Scan Electron Microscopy. To verify the presence of the desired species Attenuated Total Reflectance-Fourier Transformed Infrared and Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were employed in the analysis. Their capacity to form hydrates was verified via simultaneous Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)/Differential Thermogravimetry (DTG). Over a mass difference of 0.07 g(water)/g(composite) was detected in the coating of MgSO4, which showed signs of dehydration at temperatures around 60 degrees C, and repeatability after rehydration. Also positive results were obtained with SrCl2 and ZnSO4 with mass differences around 0.02 g/g below 100 degrees C. Hydroxyethyl Cellulose was chosen as additive to increase the stability and adherence of the coatings. The adsorption properties of the product were evaluated with simultaneous TGA-DTG, while their adherence was characterized by means of a procedure based on the test described in ISO2409. Coatings of CaCl2 displayed a much improved consistency and adherence, while retaining its adsorption capacity, showing mass differences of around 0.1 g/g at temperatures below 100 degrees C. Also MgSO4 retains the capacity of forming hydrates, showing a mass difference of more than 0.04 g/g below 100 degrees C. Finally, coated metallic fibres were investigated. Results show that the effective heat conductivity of a fibre structure coated with Al-2(SO4)(3) can be up to 4.7 times higher as compared to a block of pure Al-2(SO4)(3) . The coverage of the pursued coatings was visually investigated and the internal structure was evaluated by microscopic imaging of cross-sections. Coatings of around 50 mu m of Al-2(SO4)(3) were generated, but in general the process requires optimization to achieve a more uniform distribution.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2022

External IDs

PubMed 35568715
Scopus 85130030534
ORCID /0000-0002-0496-5948/work/142244738
ORCID /0000-0003-0087-5723/work/142250085



  • Storage materials, Calcium-chloride, Mass-transfer, Sorption, Bed, Enhancement, Dehydration, Performance, Behavior, Foams