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How nTop was used to design, analyze and print a fuel-cooled oil cooler

Written by nTop

Published on February 12, 2020

nTop engineers designed, analyzed and printed a fuel-cooled oil cooler using nTop Platform, ANSYS CFX and a new additive aluminum alloy developed by HRL Laboratories. This blog takes you from start to finish in the series that began in late 2019.

We promised you late last year that we were going to bring you a series on heat exchanger design. You may have seen it unfold over the past few months but we figured we’d collate the blogs and the article here with a short summary and link to each one.

Dr. Ryan O’Hara started off by Taking Heat Exchanger Design to the Next Level with High-Performance Geometry. Heat exchanger efficiency has been stifled by traditional modeling software and manufacturing processes not capable of producing advanced geometries. In this blog, he discusses the prevalence of heat exchangers, types of heat exchangers, and dives into electronic heat dissipation with a heat sink designed using triply periodic minimal surfaces (TPMS). He ends with a promise that he will take us through the actual workflow used by our engineers to design and analyze a fuel-cooled oil cooler (FCOC).

We also learned about a new additive aluminum alloy, 7A77, developed by HRL Laboratories. 7A77 is the world’s strongest additive aluminum alloy to date. An industrial application where 7A77 can be used is for a heat exchanger. Dr. Ryan O’Hara and Maiki Vlahinos generatively designed a novel FCOC with 7A77 in mind. Using nTop to design the internal core with a gyroid structure (aka TPMS) they were able to increase the surface area by 146% and reduce wall thickness by 50% which increased the heat transfer rate by 300%. Read more about this here.

The final fuel-cooled oil cooler design 3D printed as a cutaway to show the intricate geometry inside. Photo via HRL Laboratories and Morf3D.

Finally, the automated workflow created and used by nTop engineers to design the FCOC was discussed in this ANSYS blog, Unlock Breakthrough Heat Exchanger Designs with Gyroids. Our engineers used ANSYS CFX to evaluate the performance of the FCOC design. By integrating nTop and ANSYS CFX into an automated workflow they were able to further increase the performance of their heat exchanger design by an additional 12%.

The collaboration between nTop, HRL, Morf3D and ANSYS made this design all the more a reality. Altogether, the synthesis of advanced geometry tools, like nTop, coupled with advanced simulation, materials and fabrication methods led to a 312% increase in performance! If you’d like to learn more about how nTop's design capabilities can take your design to the next level, request a demo. In the interim, you can see how nTop can be used for other applicants by watching some of our latest webinars found here.


nTop (formerly nTopology) was founded in 2015 with the belief that engineers’ ability to innovate shouldn’t be limited by their design software. Built on proprietary technologies that upend the constraints of traditional CAD software while integrating seamlessly into existing processes, nTop allows designers in every industry to create complex geometries, optimize instantaneously, and automate workflows to develop breakthrough 3D-printed parts in record time.