General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has partnered with Australian additive manufacturing specialist Conflux Technology on development of a heat exchanger. The part is being developed using a metal additive manufacturing process for possible integration onto GA-ASI’s line of remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

Based in Geelong, Victoria, Conflux specialises in additive manufacturing applications in thermal and fluid engineering and is providing design expertise in optimising heat exchangers to improve RPAS performance.

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,” commented Linden Blue, GA-ASI’s CEO. “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,” added Michael Fuller, Conflux Technology’s CEO. “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.”

The Australian government recently selected GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian variant to provide the Armed RPAS for the Australian Defence Force under Project Air 7003. Australia selected MQ-9 for its proven, multi-role combat performance and the ability to support ad-hoc communications networks and interoperability with allies.

SkyGuardian in flight during the company’s extensive testing programme. (Photo: GA-ASI)

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