Heat exchangers are everywhere. From our in home heaters to the vehicles we drive every day, we see them everywhere. No matter what type of heat exchanger you may use, they all began the same way. A heat exchanger is a complicated device that allows for heat to be produced in both large and small applications. It requires careful study and consideration for a variety of factors when designing a heat exchanger. CFD modeling has made it much more economical to produce heat exchangers and when combined with the beauty of 3D Printing, the possibilities are endless as to what can be accomplished with CFD modeling of heat exchangers.

What is CFD Modeling?

First, before we get into the meat of things, we should examine what CFD modeling is. Essentially, CFD or Computational Fluid Dynamics is an avenue of mechanics that utilises structural data and numerical analysis to solve a problem with flowing fluids. Unlike computer generated rigid structures, fluid must flow a certain way and CFD modeling allows for the designer to get a true view of how the fluid might react in the final model. CFD modeling is often used in conjunction with 3D Printing once the final product has been approved and tested on the computer system.

Less Fouling

Fouling is a common problem in heat exchangers of all types. Tube size or design of the interior tubing can cause deposits from fluids to build up on the inside. The problem is not the evidence of fouling, but the inability to clean out any mounting deposits. Clogging and an eventual breakdown of the entire system can be a significant problem in the design of heat exchangers.

CFD modeling allows for testing of issues such as fouling to be accomplished far more efficiently. Instead of simply trying out a new design in the real world by simply 3D Printing a prototype, time and resources can be better utilised within the computer program. Fouling can be taken into account by where the fluid flows to most within the computerised design. Adjustments can be easily made to ensure that fluid flows effectively without fouling becoming a significant problem.

An Example of Fouling in Heat Exchangers. You can clearly see that deposits have been proportioned to the left side of this design possibly causing heating issues within the whole of the system. CFD modeling would show possible fouling before the piece was created so designers could come up with a solution, thereby saving significant time and money on future repairs.

Better Understanding of Heat Transfer

Developing a new design for heat exchangers is not as simple as just designing a piece that might work based on previous designs. The main concept of heat exchangers is the ability to properly provide heat to the intended application. Heat management is essential. Should your heat exchanger produce poor heating, it will be ill received by your perspective buyers. On the other hand, should your heat exchanger provide too much heat, the results can be dangerous for your clientele.

CFD modeling of heat exchangers allows this very important issue to be addressed through various colours proportioned appropriately on the screen. Cooler fluid will be depicted as a blue or purple hue with higher temperatures devoted to the yellow, red, and orange side of the colour spectrum. As fluid flows through the CFD model, a designer can see any red flags in the design that might denote inadequate heat or an abundance of heat to help determine if the design is effective or not.

Heat flow through CFD Modeling Heat Exchanger.

Reactivity Scenarios

Reactions within heat exchangers are possible. Certain liquids, when placed together can produce volatile side effects. In the past, designing heat exchangers that use flammable liquids was dangerous. Any change to the design could result in a potential catastrophe.

CFD modeling has largely taken that explosive factor out of the equation. Scenarios within the CFD modeling program allow for reactive fluids to be simulated within the model to test any interaction that might occur within the design. This factor gives the designer the ability to provide adequate testing without the fear of damaging their 3D Printed model or endangering the health of anyone else.

CFD modeling of heat exchangers, when combined with 3D Printing, ensures that the model is ideal for production without the endless amount of reprints and retesting. Take advantage of CFD modeling in your heat exchanger designs and take your 3D Prints to the ultimate level.

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