PFE-1 Plate-Fin Heat Exchanger Module Prototype: Design and Validation

T. M. Ortiz

This report details development of a prototype software application for simulating plate-fin heat exchangers. The governing differential equations of heat, mass, and momentum transfer are solved using a second order control-volume–based finite difference strategy. The resulting systems of linear equations are band diagonal in each case: LU decomposition was used for the energy solution, and the Thomas algorithm was used for the pressure and velocity solutions (SIMPLE). The conjugate heat transfer problem is solved to obtain time and space dependent metal temperatures.

The software architecture for the Xpfe prototype is a set of C++ modules:

  • a computational kernel containing the discretization, iteration, and geometry information for the prototype
  • a numerical methods library containing linear solvers and supporting algorithms
  • a fluid property module that interfaces with HTRICalc.dll
  • an empirical correlation library containing the methods used in this model
  • an XML-based I/O library used to pass input and process results

To validate the Xpfe prototype, we modeled three experimental plate-fin heat exchanger studies published in the open literature. This report summarizes the results. Functional and performance improvements are anticipated with development of the production version of Xpfe.