Alternative heat exchanger design with optimised TCO


Geothermal energy is a promising alternative to polluting fuels. The extracted heat can be used to generate electricity or to feed a district heating network. Unfortunately, the brine is highly corrosive to common construction materials. Carbon steels will exhibit uniform corrosion, while stainless steel types are susceptible to pitting. The current solution is to use highly alloyed and expensive metals. The goal of this research is to characterise the behaviour of more economic materials and to develop a model to calculate and optimise the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a heat exchanger. Although low-cost carbon steel will corrode, it might prove benefi cial to replace (some parts of) the heat exchanger several times, rather than to invest in e.g. a titanium heat exchanger. In addition to the model, we also investigate how a heat exchanger design can be improved to simplify the replacement of the corroded components.

Competences gained at VITO
  • Enhanced theoretical knowledge 
  • Programming and data science skills
  • Highquality laboratory techniques
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Project management, planning and personal effectiveness
  • Identifying networking opportunities
My added value

I am a skilled engineer with a profound theoretical background, trained R&D capabilities, project management and planning experiences, who is always looking for improvement and innovation.

After my PhD, I will be looking for an R&D or design job in a (sustainable) company, acting in a field broadly related to energy. The job should allow me to utilise my gained skills and knowledge, while challenging myself and allowing me to learn continuously.”

Willem Faes