Oscillating heat pipes (OHPs) were experimentally assessed as a passive-type heat transfer device for air-to-air heat exchange in a typical Heating Ventilation & Air conditioning system (HVAC) with adjacent air streams at different temperatures. The objective is to utilize, otherwise wasted thermal energy to pre-heat or pre-cool air in order to reduce the payload on HVAC systems, thus reducing energy consumption. OHPs can achieve effective thermal conductivities on-the-order of 10,000 W/m-K via no internal wicking structure and hence can perform aforementioned heat transfer task while providing an aerodynamic form factor. A unique working fluid with limited research inside OHPs, but with properties desirable for low grade heat fluxes, i.e. n-pentane with 70 % fill ratio, was chosen as the working fluid to achieve maximum heat transfer. Aerodynamic performance, in terms of pressure drop, was evaluated and juxtaposed with heat transfer gain/loss. The OHP thermal performance and total heat transfer for hot-environment HVAC operation was benchmarked with an empty/evacuated OHP with same overall dimensions. Results indicate that the current, atypically-long OHP is fully-capable of operating in the air-to-air convection mode for waste heat recovery for typical HVAC operating conditions. Since the OHP is passive, cost effective, and relatively aerodynamic (no fins were used), the potential cost savings for its integration into HVAC systems can be significant.

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