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GA-ASI and Conflux to develop new FOHE for the MQ-9B aircraft

The new Fuel Oil Heat Exchanger is for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.'s MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian remotely-piloted aircraft

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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) is working with long-time collaborator Conflux Technology on the design and manufacture of a new Fuel Oil Heat Exchanger (FOHE) for the MQ-9B. GA-ASI is developing this enhanced thermal solution for its MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian remotely-piloted aircraft.

GA-ASI is a leading developer of unmanned aircraft that develops modern solutions for military, security, governance, environmental operations, and more. Conflux is a thermal management system solution company headquartered in Australia, and is a pioneer in mastering additive manufacturing for heat exchanger applications. The two companies have worked together since 2018 – developing heat exchangers for aerospace.

The MQ-9B SeaGuardian

“GA-ASI wants to optimize and augment the performance of our current units by minimizing the differential pressure across the FOHE,” said Stephen Eiting, vice president of Manufacturing Operations for GA-ASI. “We want to maximize the overall heat extraction capacity, while looking for opportunities to lower the mass and volume of the FOHE.”

Another GA-ASI objective is to develop an AM heat exchanger design that can be 3D printed, post-processed, and bench-tested. As part of this most recent purchase order, Conflux will produce a fully functional prototype unit that can be tested by GA-ASI.

GA-ASI and Conflux to develop a new Fuel Oil Heat Exchanger (FOHE) for the MQ-9B remotely-piloted aircraft.
A Fuel Oil Heat Exchanger. Image source: Aeronautics Guide

“Our mission is transforming heat exchanger performance. For our project with GA-ASI, this means drop-in replacements that remove thermal load and maintain a compact profile, while also increasing performance to meet higher system demand. When you are leading the charge on advanced technology, you need a world-class team and agility to do it right. This is where Conflux comes in,” said Abe Masoud, North American Business Development Manager for Conflux Technology.

The two companies have worked on four different AM projects since 2018. Most recently, the two teams have leveraged AM to develop a cold plate heat exchanger (HX) that provides additional cooling capacity for its high-dissipation Line-Replaceable Unit (LRU) used in various GA-ASI’s UAS platforms.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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