Improving Heat Transfer Performance Through Advanced Simulation Methods

Improving Heat Transfer Performance Through Advanced Simulation Methods

With climate change continuing to drive global emissions reduction targets, it is increasingly important to maximise energy efficiency.  Rotary regenerative heat exchangers are the most efficient and compact method for gas to gas heat transfer and are becoming more widely used in diverse energy intensive processes involving waste heat.

The two considerations of emissions abatement and increased efficiency underpin the objectives of this project, which specifically relates to the design of heat transfer elements for use in Rotary Regenerative Heat Exchangers (heaters).  These elements consist of thin plates, usually in pairs, with a geometry designed to induce turbulence and hence heat transfer between the metal and gas flowing through the heater.  Assessing the thermal and pressure drop performance characteristics of heat transfer elements currently requires the element profile to be manufactured and physically tested on an existing bespoke wind tunnel type test rig.

The aim of this study is to develop high fidelity models, using the most advanced available Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools, for simulating the complex flow within heater element packs. LES models will be used, firstly, to gain a better understanding of the impact of detailed turbulent flow structures on both heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics of known element types.  This work will be validated by comparing the results from CFD to empirical data obtained from the test rig.

Secondly, with improved knowledge of the major influences on element performance, a more efficient approach to element development will be possible.  The aim will be to achieve substantial cost and time savings associated with manufacturing elements for testing.  This phase of the project will involve developing simulation tools to undertake a parametric study of configurational changes in conjunction with optimisation strategies to produce improvements in current element performance.

For more information about the project contact Dr Marco Vezza ( Senior Lecturer in the Division of Aerospace Sciences at the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow.

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