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Evaluation of the Thermal Hydraulic Performance of Round Tube Metal Foam Heat Exchangers for HVAC Applications

DOI: 10.1615/IHTC15.pmd.008831
pages 6603-6615

Henk Huisseune
Ghent University– UGent, Department of Heat, Mass and Combustion Mechanics

Sven De Schampheleire
Fellow researcher, Ghent University, Department of Flow, Heat and Combustion Mechanics

Bernd Ameel
Ghent University - UGent, Department of Flow, Heat and Combustion Mechanics

Michel De Paepe
Ghent University

KEY WORDS: porous media, heat exchanger, heat transfer enhancement, metal foam, volume averaging, energy efficiency


Open-cell metal foams show a high potential for heat transfer applications. In this study the volume averaging technique is used to simulate the thermal and hydraulic performance of metal foam heat exchangers with two tube rows in a staggered tube layout. Two-dimensional simulations are performed using a Darcy-Forchheimer-Brinkman flow model and a thermal non-equilibrium energy model. Low velocity applications which are typical for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are considered. The effect of the foam parameters and the foam material on the performance is investigated. An experimental validation illustrates the accurateness of the numerical results. The friction factors increase with decreasing porosity, while the Colburn j-factors increase with decreasing pore density. It is also shown that the use of copper foam instead of aluminum foam significantly improves the heat transfer. To judge the potential of metal foam, the results are compared to the performance of an existing louvered fin heat exchanger with the same tube layout. For a given heat exchanger volume and heat duty, a 45 PPI copper foam heat exchanger has a pumping power which is 54% less than the finned heat exchanger. A smaller pumping power means that a smaller fan can be selected, which is less expensive, uses less energy and makes less noise. This clearly shows the potential of open cell metal foam for cost-effective and energy efficient heat transfer designs.

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