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การประชุมเชิงวิชาการเครือขายพลังงานแหงประเทศไทยครั้งที่ 3 23-25 พฤษภาคม 2550 โรงแรมใบหยกสกาย จังหวัดกรุงเทพฯ

Simulation of Block Ice Formation with Varying Brine Temperatures
Arsanchai Sukkuea and Kuntinee Maneeratana

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330 Thailand Tel: 0-2218-6610, Fax: 0-2252-2889, E-mail:,

Abstract This paper simulates the formation of block ice with real brine temperature changes by the finite volume method. The mathematical model is based upon the explicit heat conduction equation with the fixed grid and latent heat source approaches. With hourly brine temperature measurements, 3 different types of variations – linear interpolation, constant average and step – are considered in the 1D and 3D simulations. The main results are temperature profiles, ice/water fraction and internal energy loss. The test cases with linear interpolation show that results have similar overall characteristics to the simulation with constant brine temperature, but with distinctive temperature variations in the frozen regions. When the brine temperature variation is changed to the step approximation, the results differ slightly from the linear interpolation and may possibly be used for further approximation.

the refrigeration system, does not affect the product sizes and requires relatively low investment and development. The factory operates 20 hours every day from 0:00-20:00 hr. During this period, evaporator piping and fans keep the brine water temperature within −2 to −12°C range (Figure 2). From the measurements at two opposite ends of a pool, denoted Tb1 and Tb2, it was found that the brine temperatures were almost uniform, especially when compared to the average brine temperatures Tb. It was also observed that the brine temperature increased significantly outside operating hours.

1. Introduction Ice factories produce block ice for consumption, fishing and frozen food businesses. Such factories consume huge amount of electricity in the manufacturing process. A factory in Samut
brine temperature, °C Tb−Tb2
2 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10 -12 0 24

Figure 1 An ice factory floor (left) and a set of ice moulds (right).


Sakhon Province can be considered as a typical large ice manufacturer in Thailand. The block ice section contains two 14.5×17×2-m brine pools, each containing 2,600 ice moulds (Figure 1). Ice blocks, weighting around 150-160 kg each, are ready for sale in 40 to 70-hours cycles. As the factory sells ice blocks to customers sporadically, substantial savings can be made by increasing equipment efficiencies as well as optimizing operating conditions to reduce ice oversupply and electricity cost [1]. In order to effectively control operating conditions, it is crucial to accurately predict the ice formation within the moulds. Even though there are many parameters affecting the rates of block ice formation, such as the brine temperature, brine level, size of block ice as well as losses, etc. The first obvious choice for operation control is the brine temperature which only involves

48 72 96 120

time t, hr

Figure 2 Hourly brine temperatures during 1-5 Oct 2004 period [2]. The Tb is averaged from measurements Tb1 and Tb2 at two opposite pool ends. A cost effective and quick method of predicting the ice formation rate is the numerical computation. The final objective of this research is to develop a cheap computational program that

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can predict the ice formation with sufficient accuracy, leading to a better plant control for energy saving, increased efficiency and profitability [1]. During solidification, the liquid/solid front, which releases massive latent heat, continuously moves through the domain. The ice formation, characterised by isothermal phase change under constant freezing temperature and abrupt property discontinuity, is highly non-linear and exact solutions of the mathematical models are extremely difficult to obtain. Thus, the numerical simulations are popularly employed instead. The overall literature survey on such numerical simulation was provided in [3]. The numerical procedures can be categorized as combinations of two main models, grid and latent heat representations. The grid consideration may be further divided into front tracking and fixed grid approaches while the latent heat is represented by either the temperature-based or the enthalpy-based methods. By comparing combinations of these approaches for the finite volume (FV) simulation in a previous study [3], the fixed grid and the modified fictitious heat schemes is chosen such that the latent heat increment is calculated from the fictitious temperature in the freezing region and then the temperature fields are adjusted. In addition, appropriate transient and interface

in the rough estimation of ice formation rates by tabulated data for on-site control.

2. Mathematical Model and Simulation The energy conservation and Fourier’s law of heat conduction are employed as the mathematical model.

∂H ∂ ∂T = (k ), ∂t ∂xi ∂xi


where H, t, T, k and xi are enthalpy, time, temperature, thermal conductivity and coordinates. The enthalpy H is calculated from:

H=∫ H=∫


Tref TF

ρ cS dT ρ cS dT + ρ L + ∫ ρ cL dT

if T < TF , if T ≥ TF , (2)


where ρ is mass density, c is the specific heat, L is the latent heat per unit mass, Tref is the reference temperature and TF is the freezing temperature. The subscripts S and L indicate the solid and liquid properties, respectively. The boundary conditions are symmetry plane (zero heat flux) and prescribed brine temperature. It is noted that this work neglects effects of radiation as well as all modes of convection, e.g. thermal, solidification expansion and bulk convection [3]. Thus, the density of the ice is approximated to that of the water to ensure the conservation of mass due to the lack of mass convection across cell faces. The mathematical model is discretised by a cell-centred finite volume technique [4]. The domain is discretised into control volumes or cells. A typical cell with volume V P (Figure 3) is represented by the node P at and bounded by n cell faces f with normal, outwards surfaces Sif , which are shared between P and adjacent cells Q . Non-computational boundary nodes are used to specify boundary conditions. The time domain is divided into time steps of size δt. Variables at time t are denoted by the superscript 0 while those at time level t + δt are not.

approximations must be selected. From available numerical techniques, 4 temporal schemes – explicit, fully implicit, CrankNicolson and pseudo-implicit [4] – and 3 interface conductivity approximations – arithmetic, harmonic means and solid

conductivity – are considered and used for 1D and 2D test cases [3]. The papers conclude that the best practical choices are the explicit temporal scheme for least computational expense and the solid interface approximation, which slightly overestimates the conductivity as the freezing front progresses across the saturated cells. This paper expands the previous studies [3-4] using real-life brine temperatures for 1D and 3D test cases. As the steel mould is made from 1.5 to 5.5-mm-thick steel plate of which the heat conductivity is much higher than ice, the brine temperature is used as the prescribed temperature of the domain. In addition, it was found in a previous study [4] that the highly non-linear, transient 3D simulations uses up a lot of memory and CPU as well as takes a very long time such that they usually took roughly 2 days to run the program on a personal computer. Thus, real-time, on-site simulations for each block ice are not economically appropriate. Besides, there is no need to predict the formation rate at an extremely high accuracy as some extra supply availability are built into the plant control in case of unexpected customer demands. Thus, the second objective of this paper is to study the simulation results in order to identifying a simple brine temperature variation that can be used

d if





Figure 3 A typical unstructured control volume. As the fictitious sensible heat is used, equations (1) and (2) are combined with the sensible heat term and converted into the integral form for any cell P as:

∫ ρ c ∂t


dV P = ∑ ∫ k f
f =1


∂T dSif . ∂xi


The second-order accurate spatial distribution of variables is assumed. The value of a quantity φ at a face f calculated by:

φf =

φP + φQ



(∂φ ∂xi )P (ri f − ri P ) + (∂φ ∂xi )Q (ri f − riQ ) , 2




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where ri is the position vector and the superscript denotes the location of the property. The gradient vector (∂φ ∂xi )

suddenly lowered to the brine temperature Tb (Figure 2) while the other boundary condition at x = 0 is symmetry plane. The freezing occurs at TF = 0°C with L = 338 kJ/kg while other properties are shown in Table 1. The domain is discretised into 50 uniform cells and δ t = 1 s which satisfy both the explicit time step restriction of δ t < ρ c (δ x )2 / 2k and the 1-cell-deep freezing front requirement [3]. Table 1 Material properties of water and ice [3]. Property Water 0.556 4.226 1000 Ice 2.220 1.762 1000*

at cell P is

calculated by ensuring a least square fit of φ through P and neighbouring nodes Q as:
⎛ nb d d ⎜∑ ⎜ f =1 (d ) ⎝
f j


f i f 3

⎞ ∂φ P nb (φ − φ )d ) =∑ , ⎟( ⎟ ∂x (d f )3 f =1 i ⎠
P f j



where d if = riQ − ri P is the distance vector between P and Q . For the conductivity k at cell faces, the solid value kS are used as recommended in [3-4]. The diffusion flux through the face f into an adjacent node Q is approximated using the orthogonal correction method as:

k (W/m ⋅ K)



⎛T −T ∂T dSif ≈ k f ⎜ f ∂xi ⎝ d


d ⎞ ∂T f S ) ( − )⎟ Sf . d ⎠ ∂xi S
f i f f i f


c (kJ/kg ⋅ K)

ρ (kg/m3 )

With the explicit scheme, the equation (3) becomes:

*Approximate to the water value to ensure mass conservation
f ,0

⎡ ∂T ( ρ cV ) S S ⎤ (T − T 0 )P − ∑ (k T Q )f ,0 ≈ ∑ ⎢k ( )(Si − d i )⎥ δt d d ∂xi f =1 f =1 ⎣ ⎦
P n n


symmetry plane
Tb Ti = 40°C

a monitoring node

By assembling equation (7) for all cells with initial and boundary conditions, a system of simultaneous equations [ A] ⋅ [T ] = [b] is formed with nodal temperature [T ] as unknowns. Before a new time step, the phase status of a cell is checked. If the node is liquid and the nodal temperature T P drops lower than the freezing temperature TF , it becomes saturated. The node is tagged and the temperature is then reassigned to TF . The latent heat increment ΔQ

x 0.27 m

Figure 5 1D problem descriptions. As the brine temperatures are measured on the hour and the hourly data is used in the plant control [1], the appropriate estimation of brine temperatures during the hour must be first considered.

is calculated

from the fictitious sensible heat such that ΔQ = ρ c(TF − T )V . The ΔQ P is added to the accumulated latent heat Q P


3.1 Linear Interpolation of Brine Temperature

subsequent time steps until the Q equals the total latent heat

With linear interpolation of hourly brine temperatures in Figure 2, the boundary condition can be considered a fairly close approximation of the real brine temperature and can be used as the base case. It takes 77.3 hours before all water are frozen. Figure 6 shows the temperature profiles at various time instants while Figure 7 displays the temperature changes with time at monitoring nodes distributed throughout the domain (Figure 5), the estimated ice thickness from the calculated latent energy [4] and associated rate as well as the internal energy and cooling load. The energy loss at an instant time t is obtained from the difference between the current and initial internal energy values. The results exhibit many characteristics of the simulation with constant brine temperature [4]. The rate of heat transfer is predominantly controlled by the position of the freezing front. Liquid cells cool down slowly; once a control volume is frozen, its temperature drops rapidly such that the temperature gradient in the ice is almost linear and the freezing of the next cell starts shortly afterwards (Figure 6). The freezing front advances at a

ρ LV


of the control volume. At this stage, the control volume

becomes solid, the tag on the cell is removed and the latent heat increment is no longer calculated (Figure 4).
Input data Data initilisation Start time increment loop Start solution loop Check phase status of each node and specify appropriate properties
Formulate & solve the energy equation For saturated nodes, calculated latent heat from fictitious sensible heat

Prescribed number of time step is reached


Figure 4 Explicit solution algorithm.

3. 1D Case Study

slowing rate and exhibits similar characteristics to the decreasing cooling load. The rate of ice formation or thickness changes is still exhibit the cyclic numerical errors from the fixed grid scheme because the front has to wait for a short interval before a new

A 0.135-m-long domain of water (shaded area in Figure 5) with unit square cross section is initially at temperature
Ti = 40°C . Then, the boundary temperature at x = 0.135 m is

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node starts to freeze as the front progresses from one control volume to the next [4]. Due to the varying values of the brine temperature, nodal temperatures fluctuate with the brine temperature. From Figure 7, this fluctuation can be seen to diffuse deeply into the domain. The temperature variation is particularly pronounced in the frozen region but is reduced with increasing distances from the boundary. This variation also triggers some small amount of heat transfer into the domain through the boundary when the brine temperature increases. In short, the brine temperature cycles can be observed in both the ice thickness and energy plots.

3.2 Constant Average Brine Temperature

As it takes 77.3 hours for fully freezing all water when the brine temperature variation is linearly interpolated, the averaged brine temperature over 78 hours of -5.996°C is used for the next comparison (Figure 8). When the average brine temperature is used, only the result characteristics of problems with constant boundary temperature [4] are obtained with many differences due to the brine temperature variations. The time taken for the water to be fully frozen is slightly shorter at 76.8 hours. The difference in ice thickness is quite large when compared with results from the interpolated brine temperature simulation. The difference in energy loss is also significant.

1 hr 10 hr









temperature T, °C

30 20 10 0 -10

temperature an inappropriate approximation even though its use would greatly simplify the plant controls. Thus the step brine temperature is considered next.

20 hr 40 hr
temperature T, °C
40 30

80 hr
0.025 0.050 0.075 0.100 0.125


20 10 0 -10

position x, m Figure 6 1D case study 1: Temperature distributions.
40 30

increasing x

energy loss difference, MJ/m ice thickness difference, mm

temperature T, °C

20 10 0 -10

4 2 0 -2 -4 -6 2.0 1.0 0.0 -1.0 -2.0 0 20

80 60 40 20 0 -20 15

increasing x

100(savg − sinterp)/sinterp Uavg − Uinterp


change rate ds/dt, mm/hr


ice thickness s, m

20 15

0.100 0.075 0.050 0.025 0.000 80




thickness change rate

5 0 -5 8



100(Uavg − Uinterp)/Uinterp

cooling load dU/dt, kW/m


energy loss U, MJ/m


energy loss






time t, hr Figure 8 1D case study 2: Temperatures at monitored nodes as well as ice thickness and energy plots as compared against the linear interpolation case study 1.
3.3 Step Brine Temperature





cooling load







If the step values, in which the brine temperature is kept constant during the hour and jumps to the next measured value, are used instead of the linear interpolation of hourly brine temperatures, the results – such as temperature distributions and ice thickness, etc. – are still similar but with more stepping
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time t, hr Figure 7 1D case study 1: Temperatures at monitored nodes (Figure 5), ice thickness and energy plots.

loss difference, %

thickness difference, %


savg − sinterp


shapes (Figure 9). It takes 77.5 hours to fully freeze all water. The difference in ice thickness is small when compared with the results from interpolated brine temperature and fall within the 0.592 – 0.900 mm range with the average and SD values of 0.010 mm and 0.310 mm. If the percentage difference in ice thickness is considered, the difference is within the range of -6.87 – 1.614% but with the average and SD values of -0.115% and 0.761% during the 80-hours period. The differences in internal energy losses are also acceptable when compared with the results from interpolated brine temperature. The differences fall within the -0.230 – 0.309 MJ/m range with the average and SD values of -0.014 MJ/m and 0.117 MJ/m . If the percentage difference in loss internal energy is considered, the difference is within the range of -2.862 – 0.757% but with the average and SD values of -0.080% and 0.383% only.
40 30
2 2 2

the total area is modelled. The discretised domain consists of 26 × 13 × 120 cells while δ t = 10 s which satisfy the combined cell size/time step restrictions [4].

4.1 Linear Interpolation of Brine Temperature

With linear interpolation of hourly brine temperatures in Figure 2, the boundary condition can be considered a close approximation of the real brine temperature and used as the reference case. It takes just under 89.5 hours before all water are frozen.
0.56 m 0.27 m


1.2 m

c b e

temperature T, °C

20 10 0 -10

0.52 m


increasing x

a) block geometry

b) monitored cells

Figure 10 Geometry and domain of ice block. Selected locations in the ice block are monitored (Figure

energy loss difference, MJ/m ice thickness difference, mm

2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 -0.5 -1.0 0.50

10b) and the temperatures and ice fractions at these cells are thickness difference, % shown in Figure 11. It is noted that the values at cells b and c are similar with only small delays for c, indicating that the side freezing fronts dominates the solidification process while the freezing front from the bottom exerts much less influences. Although the uppermost-centre node d experiences a sharp temperature drop early on, it still remains unfrozen until the last moments due to the fact that the ambient temperature is not sufficiently low to properly induce an effective freezing process. loss difference, %

100(sstep − sinterp)/sinterp

2 0 -2 -4

sstep − sinterp 100(Ustep − Uinterp)/Uinterp

-6 1




Coupled with the fact that it takes more than 10 hours longer for the domain to be fully frozen when compared to the 1D test case, the importance of the ambient temperature on the determination of overall freezing duration is clearly demonstrated. For overall results, the loss of internal energy and fraction of ice in the block are displayed. The characteristic fluctuations of results with the brine temperature variations are clearly observed.




Ustep − Uinterp


-0.50 0 20 40 60



time t, hr Figure 9 1D case study 3: Temperatures at monitored nodes as well as ice thickness and energy plots as compared against the linear interpolation case study 1.

4.2 Average Brine Temperature

As previous, the averaged brine temperature over 90 hours of -6.46°C is used for the next comparison. It takes just under 88.5 hours before all water are frozen in keeping with the trend in 1D simulations. As in the 1D case, the differences in water fraction and energy loss are quite large when compared with the results from interpolated brine temperature changes as shown in Figure 12.

4. 3D Case Study

The developed program [4] is employed to study the freezing process in industrial ice block manufacturing with the actual size of ice block shown in Figure 10a. Initially, temperature of water is
Ti = 40 °C throughout. The boundary conditions on the top end

is assumed to be Tb = 0°C . Due to symmetry, only one-fourth of ENETT2550-019 5/7

40 30

40 30

temperature T, °C

temperature T, °C

20 10 0 -10 1.00

pt d pt a pt b pt c pt e

20 10 0 -10

pt d pt a pt b pt c

pt e pt c

energy loss difference, MJ cell water fraction difference, %

100 80 60

cell water fraction


pt d pt a pt b pt c

100(favg − finterp) pt b pt d


pt e

40 20 0
0.25 0.00 -0.25 -0.50 -0.75 -1.00 -1.25 0


pt e pt a
8 6 4 2 0 -2

total energy loss U, MJ

20 15 10 5 0

0.8 0.6 0.4

water fraction
0 20 40 60 80

0.2 0.0

total water fraction f

energy loss

Uavg − Uinterp
20 40 60 80

-4 -6

time t, hr Figure 11 3D case study 1: Temperature & ice fraction at monitoring cells as well as total energy loss and water fraction.
4.3 Step Brine Temperature

time t, hr Figure 12 3D case study 2: Temperature & ice fraction at monitoring cells as well as total energy loss and water fraction. detailed analyses for on-site plant control. The average brine temperature, while is able to predict the overall trend, can not capture the variations within the domain during the freezing period. Hence, it is not suitable for further uses in the real optimisation of plant operating conditions. The results from the step approximation differ slightly from those of linear interpolation and can probably be used for the existing hourly plant control [1] instead. The future works includes the analyses of simulated data for better ice formation approximation which is in immediate demand for the plant control as the current approximation method by tabulate energy loss data [1] was found the overestimate the number of ready-for-sell ice blocks by some 200 to 400 blocks out of the total number of 2600 [5]. Later, the programs should be

If the step values are used instead of the linear interpolation of hourly brine temperatures, the overall results are quite similar even though some differences in some individual cells are comparatively larger than others (Figure 13). The difference in total water fraction is small when compared with the results from interpolated brine temperature such that the differences fall within the -0.531 – 0.678% range with the average and SD values of 0.001% and 0.221% or in the order of 1/10th compared to the constant brine temperature simulation (Figure 12). For the total internal energy loss, the differences fall within the -0.106 – 0.093 MJ range with the average and SD of -0.002 MJ and 0.038 MJ, respectively.

5. Conclusion

used to study effects of various parameters, such as the brine formation simulation with real hourly brine and ambient temperatures, brine level, mould thickness and sizes on the ice formation rate so that a more efficient plant control and design can be formulated and obtained.



temperatures by the finite volume method with the fixed grid and the latent heat by fictitious sensible heat schemes is successfully performed for 1D and 3D test cases. Three different temperature estimations between the hours are considered – the linear interpolation, constant average and step values. The linear interpolation best emulates the real changes but requires more

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total fraction difference, %

0.00 25



100(favg − finterp)

40 30

6. Acknowledgements

Special thanks are due to Dr. Naebboon Hoonchareon and temperature T, °C Miss Thitima Lertpiya from the Department of Electrical pt d pt a pt b pt c
0 -10 20 10

Engineering, Chulalongkorn University as well as the Siam Scholars Co., Ltd., Bangkok.

pt e pt b


energy loss difference, MJ cell water fraction difference, %


Lertpiya, T. “Energy Management System for Block-Ice Factory using TOD and TOU Tariff”, M. Eng. Thesis, Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of

5.0 2.5 0.0 -2.5 -5.0 -7.5 -10.0

pt a

Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, 2005. pt e pt c 100(fstep − finterp) pt d total fraction difference, %


Hoonchareon, N. and Lertpiya, T. “Private Communication”, 2004.


Prapainop, R. and Maneeratana, K. “Simulation of ice formation by the finite volume method”, Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 5570, 2004.

0.10 0.05 0.00 -0.05

Ustep − Uinterp

0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0


Meneeratana, K. “Simulation of ice formation by the unstructured finite volume method”, Proceedings of the 1st E-NETT Conference. Ambassador City Jomtien, Chonburi, code ECB02, pp. 211-216, 11-13 May 2005.

-0.10 -0.15 -0.20

100(fstep − finterp)

-0.2 -0.4 -0.6


Hoonchareon, N. “Private Communication”, 2007.






time t, hr Figure 13 3D case study 3: Temperature & ice fraction at monitoring cells as well as total energy loss and water fraction.

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