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Immersed Coil Heat Exchangers

William Logie

Institut fr Solartechnik SPF October 22, 2007

Abstract A large portion of presently available thermal storage tanks employ heat exchangers between the collector subsystem and the storage or energy delivery subsystems. This trend is driven moreso in colder climates where protection of the collectors against frost and snow was solved by circulating an anti-freeze mixture (commonly water and propylene glycol) between the collector and storage or load. The use of a heat exchanger with a non-freezing transfer uid in a solar hot water system reduces the overall eciency of the system. [2] [7] Due to the coupling of the heat exchangers Heat Transfer Coefcient to convective and buoyant ows within the storage tank, an accurate understanding of the penalty any heat exchanger brings to its system leads - even with simplication - to a non-trivial set of heatmomentum equations. [5] Quantifying these characteristics through accurate visualisation may lead to better assumptions that will help bound the unclosable NavierStokes equation.

Oberseestrae 10, CH-8640 Rapperswil

Institut fr Solartechnik SPF


The last thirty years experience in solar research has gathered much caloric understanding in the behaviour of heat exchange taken from and delivered to thermal storage tanks. This report gathers together some of this knowledge to identify further work involving contemporary experimental (and eventually numerical) resources. It serves as an introduction to the principles of heat transfer where immersed heat exchangers are implemented, concentrates on well known examples used today and tentatively suggests what one might learn through experimental observation of natural convection utilising Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF). As the title suggests, the character of heat exchangers mentioned in this report are specically those which are immersed in solar thermal storage. The type of heat exchangers immersed depends on the type of tank and arrangement in which the heat transfer shall take place, which are many. We are foremost interested in the combination of vertical cylindrical storage tanks with varying immersed coil heat exchangers, which are most widely dispersed among existing solar thermal storage stock.

Theory - The problem of convention

Detailed study of immersed heat exchangers requires consideration of the natural convection - both internally and externally - occuring near the immersed heat exchangers surfaces. This is the phenomenen where the uid heated from the exchanger decreases in density and thus induces convection around or along the surface of heat exchange against gravity. Just as the ow past the exchanger is dependent on the heat transfer from it, so too is the heat transfer coecient of the exchanger dependent on the uid velocity past it. Much contemporary heat exchanger design accounts for natural convective heat transfer with the approximation (averaging) of laminar ow around an innitely long horizontal tube. Considering the convection in three dimensions, as alluded to in the abstract of this paper, increases the complexity of calculation signicantly. Understanding the local ux or the total transfer rate in any convection problem depends on knowledge of the local and average surface friction, convective heat transfer and the convective mass transfer boundary layers. Determination of the coecients for each, specically the coupling between them, is viewed as the problem of convection because, in addition to depending on numerous uid properties such as density (), viscosity (), thermal conductivity () and specic heat (Cp ), the coecients depend on the surface geometry and the ow conditions.

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Surface geometry

Considered are all spiral coils with variation in the following geometry: Internal and external radii of tube (diameters) Pitch of helical growth (in the z direction) Radius/diameter of helix Overall height of helix Entrance and exit eects to and from the heat exchanger 2.1.1 To n or not to n

Fins are used to increase the heat transfer from a surface by increasing the eective surface area. However, the n itself represents a conduction resistance to heat transfer from the original surface. For this reason (and others, like that of water bubbles cavitating between the ns) there is no assurance that the heat transfer rate will be increased through the use of ns. Fin eciency (f ) can be calculated from equations found in any table of common n eciencies (e.g. Table 3.5, pp152 from [1]).


Flow conditions

The condition of ow within the uids nding themselves on either side of the heat exchangers surfaces can inuence greatly its ability to transfer heat. Both forced and bouyancy generated ows along the exchangers surfaces change the gradients within the boundary layers and thus the rate at which heat is able to travel along them. The greatest change in gradient comes with the transition from laminar to turbulent ow. 2.2.1 Reynolds number

For dynamic similitude we measure the likelyhood of nding laminar or turbulent ow with the dimensionless Reynolds number, which is a balance between inertial and viscous forces. Re = u L (1)

for a given uid (free ow) velocity u travelling over a characteristic length L. It is assumed that the global ow inside a solar storage tank with immersed heat exchangers remains laminar but it is very possible, depending on the power with which the heat exchanger is charged, that local ows 3

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around the heat exchanger (within the convective boundary layers) can be turbulent. Flow within the heat exchanger tube can be either laminar or turbulent depending on the ow rate of the pumped supply-side and the tube dimensions. 2.2.2 Rayleigh number

Something that will not be discussed in detail within this report but is valid to the evaluation of information presented is the Rayleigh number, given as follows; g RaL = GrL P r = (Ts T ))L3 (2) Where: Gr = Grashof number (ratio of bouyancy to viscosity) P r = Prandtl number (ratio of momentum to thermal diusivity) g = Acceleration due to gravity Ts = Surface temperature T = Ambient temperature = Kinematic voscosity = Thermal diusivity = Thermal expansion coecient 2.2.3 External ow conditions

Before introducing the relevant theory relating to the convective heat transfer boundary layer it needs mentioned that we interest ourselves primarily for natural convection locally in the hope that accurate assessment on the local scale will give reliable global averages. We seek the local coecients (as a function of varying temperature, velocity and concentration gradients) to then average them over the whole heat exchanger. Evaluation of the tube cylindrical section as a combination of two-dimensional radial conduction (with resistance Rw dened from an outer radius r2 and inner radius r1 over a characteristic length L) equation: Rw =
r2 ) ln( r 1



We can then include convection to observe that Rf,ext 1 1 = + + Rw UA (o hext 2r2 L) ext (o 2r2 L) ext Rf,int 1 + + , (o 2r1 L) int (o hint 2r1 L) int 4


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Figure 1: As shown in this 3D mesh of a single helical coil, Th , i nominally nds itself at the top of the exchanger tube, such that the more eective counterow heat exchange (where storage is stratied) takes place as the heating uid moves downwards

which gives us the overall heat transfer area coecent - UA. Subscripts int and ext refer to internal and external surfaces of the heat exchanger respectively, Rf to the fouling factors on either side, h to the heat transfer convection coecient and o to the overall surface eciency ; by way of (5), o = 1 Af (1 f ). A (5)

Our objective then becomes the development of the thermal eld applicable to our curved surface - those gradient properties found within reach of the surface of the heat exchanger aecting the heat transfer convection coecient. Bending the conception from Figure (2) and looking closer at a cross section (in this case taken from the very bottom of the heat exchangers for simplicity - where no convective plumes from below can be expected) we can seek denition of the convective heat transfer coecient for each point on the exchanger, seen as a horizontal cylinder. Following the notation given in Figure (3) where the lower stagnation point is taken at x = 0, the local heat transfer coecent is obtained as a x function of in degrees, where = 360 D for given diameters (D = 2r2 ) of the tube [8]. Using Fouriers Law to determine the heat ux at the tube surface into the convective boundary requires us to evaluate the integral from the tubes surface to the edge of its convection induced stream. For this local point of interogation h is then obtained through Newtons law of cooling and nor5

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Figure 2: Illustrates the Boundary Layer conditions relevant for convection transport over an arbitrary surface (shown here under forced ow u ) [1].

66 '$ # q Q Q sy Q "! &% *x


Figure 3: Simple illustration of the natural convection boundary layer over a heat exchanger tube section

malised for the temperature dierence between free uid and the tubes surface with Equation 6. h= T Ts T L Ts T y (6)
y =0

The * implies distances normalised for characteristic length L and temperatures normalised for Newtons law. 2.2.4 Nusselt number

The Nusselt number is another one of our dynamic similitude measures used to describe the ratio of convective to conductive heat transfer for relation to real situations.

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The dimensionless Nusselt expression is dened as follows: hL . (7) An indicative graph of Nusselt number as a function of is found in Figure (4). Nu =

Figure 4: Nusselt correlation of tube section showing the performance of the local convective heat transfer coecient along the boundary layer development [1]

Looking at how the Nusselt number changes when tubes are stacked on top of one another (Figure 5) shows how the convective boundary layer can eect heat transfer. 2.2.5 Internal ow conditions

Where ow is dominated by laminar velocity proles, bouyancy forces due to gravity become overwhelmed by the so called Dean ow - secondary ow resulting from coriolis forces, shown in Figure 6. Of interest to note is a study made by Chagny (2001) in which internal convective heat transfer of a standard and a chaotic helical coil conguration were compared, shown in Figure 7. It was found that the chaotic conguration achieved a higher convective heat transfer due to disruption of the Dean ow for Laminar ows. Where transition to turbulence had occured, this advantage was insignicant.

Empirical correlations - Testing

An indiciative study on the conventional heat transfer performance of immersed heat exchangers is shown by Farrington and Bingham (1986) [5] in 7

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Figure 5: Nusselt numbers shown for a vertical array of 5 horizontal tubes (in an in-line bundle) [4]

Figure 6: Natural convection reacts not only to acceleration due to gravity. Here we see the coriolis eect found in the form of secondary ow inside a helical coil: Dean ow [1]

the testing of four immersed heat exchangers. Following any good heat and mass transfer text [1], the performance equations tting the load side of a solar thermal storage were constructed using log mean temperature dierence correlation. The eectiveness of a heat exchanger with regards to the system, measured using equation (8). Here the temperature of the uid entering the heat exchanger is written as Th,i (h identifying the heat source), the temperature of uid exiting the heat exchanger with Th,o and the temperature 8

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Figure 7: Chagny (2001) LIF measurements of standard (a) and chaotic helical (b) congurations for varying Reynolds number [3]

of the storage with TS . =

Th,i Th,o Th,i TS


The heat transfer rate is measured by way of this same temperature dierence acting on the specic capacitance CP of the uid and its rate of ow m through the heat exchanger, written in equation (9). q = mC P (Th,i Th,o ) (9)

The logarithmic mean temperature dierence, used to relate the overall heat transfer area coecient to the inlet and outlet temperatures, is given in equation (10). Th,i Th,o (10) LM T D = Th,i TS ln( Th,o TS )

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This now allows us to formulate the overall heat transfer area coecient in equation (11). q UA = (11) LM T D A Nusselt correlation of: N uD = CRaD (12)

was used for varying diameters D but made no account for varying pitchto-diameter (P/D) ratios or dierent geometries. Furbo (1984) [6] investigated many compact immersed coil heat exchangers (all with a P/D ratio of 1) and created a correlation function for determining heat transfer from regression of empirical studies: H = U A = A + B.TS Where: A = C1 + C2 . ln(Th,i TS ) and B = C3 + C4 . ln(Th,i TS ) The constants C1 through C4 depend on the design of the spiral exchanger. Nusselt correlation for hh,int. :
0.34 N u = 0.016.P rm .Re0.82 .(


P rm 0.25 ) P rw


Nusselt correlation for hh,ext. : N u = 0.60 + 0.387.Gr0.192 .559 9/16 8/27 (1 + ( 0P ) rf ) (15)

And they can both be related back to H through Equation 4 for local or global areas of interest (interrogation areas).


Both the LM T D and the less iteratively intensive number of transfer units (NTU [1]) method - which requires only inlet temperatures to be known is valid for any heat exchanger immersed in a storage medium that does not have an appreciable change in temperature compared to the temperature rise on the forced ow side of the heat exchanger. Seeing as immersed heat exchangers are well known for mixing the storage tank completely, when either in charge or discharge operation, this makes the modelling somewhat easier. Due to the overwhelming use of immersed coil heat exchangers, there is signicant need for improvement in the knowledge of immersed heat exchangers, namely: 10

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Mixing caused from the heating or cooling (draw-o) of solar storage tanks with immersed spirals, Heat exchanger capacity rates for tall spirals (occupying dierent levels of stratied tanks), Downward heat transfer caused by heat exchanger spirals and pipes, Natural convection caused by heat loss for tanks with low height to diameter ratios, and Heat exchangers of varying P/D ratio. The greatest solar system eectiveness can be expected where the outlet temperature from the heat exchanger approaches the temperature of the uid in the store without disturbing stratication (highest solar fraction). Note: Further Literature from the Institute for Thermodynamics and Heating Technology (ITW - Stuttgart) will be looked into over the coming weeks.


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[1] Frank P Incropera, David P Dewitt, Theodore L Bergman, Adrienne S Lavine: Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer, 6th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, (2006) [2] S Arora, J H Davidson, J Burch and S Mantell: Thermal Penalty of an Immersed Heat Exchanger in Integral Storage Systems, ASME J. Sol. Energy Eng., Vol. 123, Issue 3, pp 180-186, (2001) [3] C. Chagny, C. Castelain and H. Peerhossaini: Chaotic heat transfer for heat exchanger design and comparison with a regular regime for a large range of Reynolds numbers, Journal of Applied Thermal Engineering, Vol. 20, (2000) [4] Y. T. Krishne Gowda, P. A. Aswatha Narayana und K. N. Seetharamu: Numerical investigation of mixed convection heat transfer past an inline bundle of cylinders, Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Vol 41, No. 11, (1997) [5] Robert B Farrington, Carl E Bingham: Testing and Analysis of Immersed Heat Exchangers, Solar Energy Research Institute, (1986) [6] S Furbo (Ph.D.): Varmelargring til Solvarmeanlg, Laboratoriet for Varmeisoliering, Technical University of Denmark - DTU, (September 1984) [7] A Mertol, W Place and T Webster: Detailed Loop Model (DLM) Analysis of Liquid Solar Thermosiphons with Heat Exchangers, ISES Solar Energy, Vol. 27, No. 5, pp 367-386 (1981) [8] Yogesh Jaluria: Natural Convection Heat and Mass Transfer , Pergamon Press, (1975)