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Simulation of a shell and tube heat exchanger with a spiral baffle

In the industrial world, heat transfer is one the phenomena occurring in many important industrial processes whether we need to add heat or remove heat from the systems and the streams. One of the most popular heat exchangers is shell and tube heat exchanger. This heat exchanger is made up a shell and the tubes are located inside the shell. One of the fluids moves through the tubes and another fluid move over the tube in the shell side. Shell-and-tube heat exchanger has different types based on the flow direction. In the shell side baffles and fins are used to increase the heat transfer. CFD simulation of heat exchangers is very important as results in better designs and much higher efficiency. In the CFD simulation shell-and-tube heat exchangers we should pay attention to phenomena such as pressure drop, friction, temperature distribution turbulence effects and overall heat transfer. Moreover, we could investigate the effects of baffles and their positions, different kind of fins and surface roughness on the efficiency of the heat exchanger.

Investigations show that for all the spiral angles and the same pressure drop, the heat transfer coefficient of the shell and tube heat exchanger with the spiral baffle will be greater than the heat exchanger of the shell and tube with the ordinary baffle. The flange-side spiral baffle compensates for flow losses and eliminates the pressure drop, so spiral baffles are a very effective way to convert pressure drop to heat transfer.

In this analysis, we tried to simulate and analyze the flow inside a shell and pipe heat exchanger with a spiral baffle using Ansys Fluent software.

Geometry and Mesh

The geometry required for this analysis consists of three sections of the inner spiral tubes, an outer cylindrical shell, and a spiral baffle located inside the shell and around the tubes. The geometry and networking required for this analysis are generated by Gambit software. The type of mesh used in this analysis is unorganized and the total number of cells produced for this geometry is 1629340 cells.


Since the heat transfer in this converter is a forced heat transfer type, K-epsilon Realizable model is used to analyze the turbulence of the current. An ideal gas model has been used to determine the variations in the density proportional to the temperature. It is also not necessary to explain that the energy equations will be solved together with the momentum equations.

Boundary conditions

The inlet fluid in the cylindrical outer shell is considered as the Mass Flow Inlet and is assumed to be 0.5 Kg/s. The temperature of the fluid is also constant for the input current at a temperature of 300K have been considered. The internal wall temperature of the internal tubes is considered constant and equal to 450K according to the working conditions. The flow output from the crust is also considered as a pressure outlet, and the outside wall of the crust is also considered to be insulated.

Discretization of equations

According to the type of heat transfer in this analysis, the Pressure-Based solver is used to solve the equations and the Simple algorithm is used to decompose the coupling of speed and pressure. The energy and momentum equations are discarded in the form of First Order Upwind.

Finally, the results are shown in terms of temperature contours as well as fluid velocity.

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