Graduation date: 2013The need for clean and renewable fuel such as hydrogen is driven by a growing worldwide population and increasing air pollution from fossil fuels. One of the major barriers for the use of hydrogen in automotive industry is the storage of hydrogen. Physisorption is the most promising storage technique due to its high storage density, reversibility and rapid sorption kinetics besides being safe and volume-efficient. A major challenge for physisorption is the need to manage the heat of adsorption at cryogenic temperatures. In this thesis, a 6061 aluminum microchannel cooling plate is designed to remove the equivalent heat flux required by the adsorption of hydrogen within an adsorption bed. Therefore, the objective of this thesis is to determine whether laser welding and heat treating strategies can be developed for a 6061 aluminum microchannel cooling plate as part of a larger hydrogen storage thermal management system. Key manufacturing process requirements include controlling the hermeticity, strength and dimensional stability of the heat-treated weld joint. A hermetic microchannel cooling plate was successfully laser welded and heat treated using free convection in air to quench the solution heat treatment. The weld strength and warpage obtained were within acceptable limits. Experimental testing of the fabricated microchannel cooling plate showed acceptable percent error with an experimental heat removal rate within 13.4% of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analyses and an average pressure drop error of 25%. Calculations show that the cooling plate developed could support a hydrogen storage thermal management system taking up 5.0% and 10.3% of the system displacement volume and mass, respectively
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