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[Tool] Heat Exchanger Design Script: Build Heating and Cooling Systems With Confidence

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Engineering things that involve heat flow has been a frustration of mine for quite a long time.  We're fortunate to have this post documenting the actual heat exchange formulas used by the game, but that's a far cry from being able to say how big my heat exchanger needs to be in order to actually move enough heat without one side or the other exceeding tolerable temperature ranges.

Well, now I've solved all that.  I derived formulas for computing that length, and wrote a script to automate the process.

You can find the script here.  It's just a single python file, so you can download and use it without any setup.  The documentation is here, and also contains derivations for all of the formulas used in the script, if anybody is interested.  Some of the tricks that I used may be valuable for modelling other sorts of heat-based devices.

As an example of what this script can do, here is an early-game metal refinery that I designed.  The heat exchanger on top is one of the examples in the documentation.


Because of the mechanized airlocks, you can build it in biomes that would normally freeze your coolant if it was exposed to the enviornmental temperatures too long, and you don't have to be conservative about the length of pipe that you use to cool the coolant.  This allows the refinery to run at full speed, since it doesn't have to wait for coolant to circulate through a conservative loop several times before reaching a safe temperature.  The heat exchanger is guaranteed to handle the refinery making steel at full throttle if embedded in polluted water (or better) at a temperature of 55C (or lower), provided that you are running the metal refinery coolant at an input temperature of 60C and that you replace the top layer of tiles with metal tiles once you've got the refined metal to do so (see the example in the script documentation for details).

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