GE Additive has unveiled a 3D printed oxygen hydrogen micromixer in collaboration with Shell International B.V.
The joint design and engineering project was undertaken at Shell’s Energy Transition Campus Amsterdam (ECTA), with GE Additive’s Concept Laser M Line system utilised to additively manufacture the micromixer component.
Printed in nickel alloy 718 on a M Line machine installed at Shell’s 3D Printing CoE and Workshop, the new oxygen hydrogen micromixer features complex internal channels that are difficult to produce with conventional technologies. The part measures 296 mm in height and 484 mm in diameter, and counts as one of Shell’s largest and most complex parts built on the M Line so far. It took nine days to build, with post-processing also carried out at Shell’s facility.
“We really wanted to put the M Line through its paces and test it to its limits,” commented Joost Kroon, an additive technology subject matter expert at Shell. “Working with the GE Additive team, we agreed to apply additive technology to reimagine a large, complex parts,, incorporating channels that would be difficult to manufacture conventionally. Working on an oxygen hydrogen micromixer aligns well with our companies’ strategies to play a positive role in the energy transition.”
“Once we had settled on a part, our preliminary research showed that existing micromixers – also known as hydrogen-oxygen burners – are typically cylindrical when conventionally manufactured to accommodate the complex layout of tanks, pipes and nozzles,” added Sonali Sonawane Thakker, Lead Design Engineer at GE Additive’s AddWorks business. “For additional complexity, we chose a large conical design and also moved from a flat to a curved structure with an ISO grid to increase the overall strength, rather than a customary flat one.”
Thakker was responsible for researching, designing, and iterating the final design of the component, which was showcased at the recent Formnext event. Taking inspiration from the Fibonacci sequence replicated in flowers and petals, Thakker incorporated 330 individual nozzles into a circular pattern, while also shaping the curved wall to resemble a petal.
Once the design was finalised, files were sent back to Shell where the additive manufacture of the component commenced.
“We have been involved in the project from the outset and have therefore been particularly close to the build and invested in its success,” said Lisa Kieft-Lenders, Team Lead 3D Printing + Mechanical Workshop at Shell. “Given this is one of, if not the, largest and most complex parts built on an M Line so far, we’re remained in close contact with the GE Additive team in Munich and were supported on the ground here in Amsterdam by their local field service engineers. After some adaptions at the start, the build ran smoothly over nine days.”
Post-Formnext, the part is to be put on display at Shell’s ECTA.