UAS Thermal Solutions Developed with Additive Manufacturing

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has partnered with additive manufacturing applications specialist Conflux Technology to develop a new heat exchanger solution that may potentially be integrated into GA-ASI’s family of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Specializing in thermal and fluid engineering, Conflux is providing GA-ASI with extensive design expertise in the optimization of heat exchangers produced via additive manufacturing techniques in order to increase the performance of UAS.

GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian variant was recently chosen by the Australian Government as the armed RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) under Project Air 7003. Multiple armed forces around the world have also selected the MQ-9 platform due to its proven, multi-role combat performance, ability to support ad-hoc communications networks, and high degree of interoperability. The MQ-9B is the follow-up to GA-ASI’s Predator series of Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) UAS. The entire fleet has accumulated more than six million flight hours to date.

Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI, commented: “GA-ASI and Conflux are developing novel and state-of-the-art thermal solutions for application to our existing and next generation RPAS. This will allow enhanced endurance and lower manufacturing cost, as well as more flexibility in our product design and integration.”

Michael Fuller, Conflux Technology CEO, stated: “Fundamental efficiency gains require heat transfer innovations. In Conflux we have a highly innovative engineering team that blends first principles thermo-fluid dynamics with design creativity and Additive Manufacturing process expertise. Conflux heat exchangers derive their performance from highly complex geometries enabled by Additive Manufacturing. Our scientists and engineers, alongside their GA-ASI counterparts, will now develop heat exchange applications to improve fundamental efficiencies for GA-ASI’s RPA systems.”