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Research Papers

Numerical Simulation of Frosting on Fin-and-Tube Heat Exchanger Surfaces

[+] Author and Article Information
Xiaomin Wu

Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power
Engineering of Ministry of Education,
Department of Thermal Engineering,
Tsinghua University,
Beijing 100084, China
e-mail: wuxiaomin@mail.tsinghua.edu.cn

Qiang Ma

Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power
Engineering of Ministry of Education,
Department of Thermal Engineering,
Tsinghua University,
Beijing 100084, China
e-mail: maq09@sina.cn

Fuqiang Chu

Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power
Engineering of Ministry of Education,
Department of Thermal Engineering,
Tsinghua University,
Beijing 100084, China
e-mail: chu_fuqiang@126.com

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received May 31, 2016; final manuscript received September 7, 2016; published online April 4, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Ziad Saghir.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 9(3), 031007 (Apr 04, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: TSEA-16-1155; doi: 10.1115/1.4035925 History: Received May 31, 2016; Revised September 07, 2016

Frost on heat exchanger fin surfaces increases the thermal resistance and blocks the air flow passages, which reduce the system energy efficiency. Therefore, investigations of frost formation especially simulations of frosting on the heat exchanger surfaces are essential for designing heat exchangers that operate with frosting. In this paper, the frost growth and densification processes on fin-and-tube heat exchanger surfaces are numerically investigated using a mass transfer model implemented as a user-defined function (UDF) in fluent. The model predicts the frost distributions on the heat exchanger surfaces, the temperature distributions, and the air flow pressure drop. The results show that the frost is thicker and the frost density is higher on the fin surfaces on the windward side near the tubes, while the frost is thinner and the density is lower near the inlet. Very little frost appears in the tube wake region. Frost on the fin-and-tube heat exchanger surfaces restricts the airflow and about doubles the pressure drop after frosting for 50 min. The simulated frost distributions and pressure drops are in good agreement with experimental data, which means that the frosting model can be used to predict frost layer growth on heat exchanger surfaces and the resulting airflow resistance.

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References

Figures

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Fig. 1

Part of fin-and-tube heat exchanger model

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Fig. 2

Simulation region for frost formation on a fin-and-tube heat exchanger

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Fig. 3

Fin surface temperature distribution (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, v = 1.0 m/s, and t = 50 min)

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Fig. 4

Humid air temperature distribution (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, v = 1.0 m/s, and t = 50 min)

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Fig. 5

Humid air streamlines before and after frosting (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, and v = 1.0 m/s): (a) t = 0 min and (b) t = 10 min

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Fig. 6

Humid air velocity distributions before and after frosting (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, v = 1.0 m/s, and t = 50 min): (a) t = 0 min and (b) t = 50 min

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Fig. 7

Water vapor mass fraction distribution after frosting (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, v = 1.0 m/s, and t = 50 min)

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Fig. 8

Ice volume fraction on the fin surface (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, v = 1.0 m/s, and t = 50 min)

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Fig. 9

Experimentally observed frost distribution

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Fig. 10

Ice volume fractions near the tube (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, and v = 1.0 m/s): (a) t = 10 min, (b) t = 30 min, and (c) t = 50 min

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Fig. 11

Pressure distribution in the humid air (Tt = −5 °C, Tin = 2 °C, RH = 85%, and v = 1.0 m/s): (a) t = 0 min and (b) t = 50 min

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