Heat transfer processes in parallel-plate heat exchangers of thermoacoustic devices - numerical and experimental approaches

Artur Jaworski, Antonio Piccolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the issues of heat transfer in oscillatory flow conditions, which are typically found in thermoacoustic devices. The analysis presented concerns processes taking place in the individual "channels" of the parallel-plate heat exchangers (HX), and is a mixture of experimental and numerical approaches. In the experimental part, the paper describes the design of experimental apparatus to study the thermal-fluid processes controlling heat transfer in thermoacoustic heat exchangers on the micro-scale of the individual channels. Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF) and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) techniques are applied to obtain spatially and temporally resolved temperature and velocity fields within the HX channels. The temperature fields allow obtaining the local and global, phase-dependent heat transfer rates and Nusselt numbers, and their dependence on the Reynolds number of the oscillating flow. The numerical part of the paper deals with the implementation of CFD modelling capabilities to capture the physics of thermal-fluid processes in the micro-scale and to validate the models against the experimental data. A two-dimensional low Mach number computational model is implemented to analyse the time-averaged temperature field and heat transfer rates in a representative domain of the HXs. These are derived by integrating the thermoacoustic equations of the standard linear theory into a numerical calculus scheme based on the energy balance. The comparisons between the experimental and numerical results in terms of temperature and heat transfer distributions suggest that the optimal performance of heat exchangers can be achieved when the gas displacement amplitude is close to the length of hot and cold heat exchanger. Heat transfer coefficients from the gas-side can be predicted with a confidence of about 40% at moderate acoustic Reynolds numbers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


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