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Turbo intercooler as a hydronic heater

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Woodsrover, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    If you remember, I have a AHS Coalgun S130 that I'm going to use to heat my 1000'-sqft. barn. I've been looking around for a used Modine unit but a decent one hasn't come along.

    I work in a body shop and we happen to have a F450 diesel ambulance that hit a deer. The intercooler is slightly bent and we're replacing it. I got looking at it and it sure would make a nice heater unit. It's about 2'x2' and has two large ports I can weld female pipe fittings into. I can build a box around the back of it and mount a thermostat-controlled fan inside. Hang it from the ceiling, run a couple pipes and Bob's yer uncle.

    What say ye? Dumb idea or not?

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  2. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    I bet it would through off some heat, you would probably have to test it to know for sure. I too thought the Modine's were too expensive and used an old residential condenser unit (outdoor AC unit) to heat my barn. Got it at a junk yard and replaced the 240v fan motor with a 120V fan motor but this is not necessary. Heats the building nicely by just circulating water through it. If I run the fan the return water is "chilled" and can take 165 degree water and take 120 degrees out of it. My boiler has a Danfoss valve, plus the boiler and loads are all connected in primary-secondary configuration so the chilled return water gets mixed down before it hits the return of the boiler.
  3. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    That's a good idea too. I may know where there are a couple of those around too.

    I'm planning on running this boiler with the circulator pumping all the time but the fan on a thermostat turned off unless I'm out there. I figure the boiler maintaining temperature and circulating through the exchanger will be enough to keep the chill out of the place and it shouldn't burn too much coal. If I can keep it about 40-degrees in the dead of winter like this I'll be happy. If I need to work out there I'll click on the thermostat a let it really burn.

    It'll be next year before the barn is insulated and this thing is installed and burning but until then I keep thinking about how it'll all work.
  4. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I've kind of wondered before why a regular automotive radiator couldn't be adapted to give a bit of shop heat.
  5. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Is it plastic/aluminum? Most automotive radiators are plastic and aluminum now-a-days, if your running on a pressureized closed system it will let oxygen in, and radiators are usuallu rated for 20 psi max, with the pressure relief in the cap in the 12-16 psi range. The intercooler, however may have higher ratings, but if it's plastic, same oxygen thing applies. On an open system however, you may be good to go, but check the chemical compadibility with aluminum, as it is more reactive than copper, and can be paper thin in a radiator designed to run at low pressure.

    BTW, I too have several scrounged radiators from my mechanic days. The shop where I worked also had a large body shop, and their "junk pile" was a gold mine.

    TS
  6. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    It's all aluminum with cast ends and a core with pretty thick tubes. Looks like it'll take lots of flow too.

    This is picture of it that I pulled off the interwebs. I'm going to weld the tow ports up with plugs that will accept 2" pipe.


    [​IMG]
  7. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Nice warm morning with lots of free time so I went out to the garage and took a look at the intercooler on my Freightliner Columbia. It measures 40 inches wide and 27 inches tall and is totally cast aluminum. Even the tubes appear to be cast.
    I think one would work for you but with limited life if your water PH is above neutral. Aluminum doesn't like a caustic atmosphere and will etch. You will also produce some hydrogen during the process so you will need a means of discharging it from the system.

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