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Running a Thermal Fluid Flow Analysis in your Browser

The design of heat exchangers – independent of the exact type – involves plenty of challenges and is therefore a very interesting discipline from an engineer’s standpoint.

It combines multiple physical phenomena such as fluid flow, heat transport, thermostructural stress, vibration and corrosion that all need to be taken into account in the design phase in order to achieve its desired performance.

Since the underlying physics is so diverse the need for different simulation capabilities is high in this application area. The approach of the SimScale platform, unifying different simulation capabilities within one single end-to-end CAE application, is therefore well suited to address this application.

Thermal Fluid Flow Analyses

Let’s have a look at a thermal fluid flow analysis to study the behavior of one of the fluids within a simplified pipe heat exchanger.

We start by uploading a CAD model in STEP format of the fluid volume that is heated from the smaller pipe in the middle. The image below shows the SimScale pre-processing viewer displaying the CAD model.

CAD of a heat exchanger

The next step is to create a computational grid for it. We are using a hex dominant mesh operation with boundary layer refinement to create the mesh. A cut view is shown in the figure below.

Mesh of a heat exchanger with SimScale

The last step before we can run the simulation is to set up the actual analysis. We are using a solver that neglects the density-pressure coupling but accounts for the density-temperature coupling in order to resolve the convection effects.

The inner pipe is assumed to have a constant temperature while the outer walls are assumed to be adiabatic. The simulation is carried out on a 4 core machine and took around two hours.

The results are then visualized in the integrated post-processing environment which is shown in the figure below.

Thermal fluid flow analysis of heat exchanger with SimScale

One can see that this simplified pipe heat exchanger does not perform very well. The bulk of the fluid passes the volume too far away from the heated pipes in the middle.

The insights into the behavior of the system would now allow us to make informed design decisions and optimize it early in the product development process.

Furthermore we could run other analyses such as a thermal-stress analysis to determine the dimensions of the design.

Historically running these types of analyses needed significant investments into hardware and software before one could profit from such insights. SimScale takes down theses barriers and gives you access to simulation technology right through your web-browser.

In case you want to have a closer look at this model, browse by in our library or join us in the dedicated webinar for heat exchanger simulation with SimScale.

Also, you can learn more about thermal analyses with SimScale on our website.

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