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Development, production and testing of optimized designs of compact heat exchangers containing heat transfer surfaces with implanted vortex generators

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Vortex generators for compact heat exchangers

Heat exchangers are ideal for a wide variety of product designs across a broad range of industries, including aerospace, military and chemical processing. This project resulted in an innovative development - the implantation of vortex generators in compact heat exchangers (VEHE). This breakthrough development offers great energy and material savings for industries.


Heat exchangers have been long considered as the key equipment for the more rational use of energy. The introduction of compact heat exchangers in many industrial processes has resulted in minimisation of energy costs that are directly associated with the improvement of energy efficiency. For this reason, the research and development activities continuously performed on this technology may lead to greater benefits for its industrial applications. To further improve this technology, this project developed and tested three design alternatives of VEHEs - compact heat exchangers with embossed vortex generators. More specifically, the project elaborated plate-fin and tube-fin VEHEs using reliable methods for assessing and predicting their performance for their cost-effective design and production. In addition, the project also developed software (data base and computer code) for optimising the use of VEHEs use by industries. Among the three VEHE designs tested, two of them were found to be highly promising. For the two designs, it is estimated that the net savings resulting from reductions in transfer surface, volume and weight and the cost of manufacture is between 15-25%. On the contrary, the third design c of a plate heat exchanger with secondary fins bearing punched vortex generators, showed great flow losses and extremely increased manufacture costs. The design of a fin-tube heat exchanger with punched vortex generators has been immediately fit for production. It is already in an actual production programme and suitable for mobile applications. On the other hand, the design of a plate heat exchanger with embossed vortex generators showed particular assembly problems with the plates. Nevertheless, these problems can be easily overcome with limited effort required. The developed software specifies the necessary conditions for minimising the operational cost for a given conventional or vortex enhanced heat exchanger configuration. Consequently, it estimates the dimensions of the cost-effective heat exchanger. Hence, it is a flexible tool designed for industrial prediction and design of heat exchangers.

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