In an attempt to manage CFD computations in aero engine heat exchanger design, this work presents the best strategies and the methodology used to develop a holistic porosity model, describing the heat transfer and pressure drop behavior of a complex profiled tubular heat exchanger for aero engine applications. Due to the complexity of the profile tube heat exchanger geometry and the very large number of tubes, detailed CFD computations require very high CPU and memory resources. For this reason the complex heat exchanger geometry is replaced in the CFD computations by a simpler porous medium geometry with predefined pressure loss and heat transfer.
The present work presents a strategy for developing a holistic porosity model adapted for heat exchangers, which is capable to describe their macroscopic heat transfer and pressure loss average performance. For the derivation of the appropriate pressure loss and heat transfer correlations, CFD computations and experimental measurements are combined. The developed porosity model is taking into consideration both streams of the heat exchanger (hot and cold side) in order to accurately calculate the inner and outer pressure losses, in relation to the achieved heat transfer and in conjunction with the selected heat exchanger geometry, weight and operational parameters. For the same heat exchanger, RAM and CPU requirement reductions were demonstrated for a characteristic flow passage of the heat exchanger, as the porosity model required more than 80 times less computational points than the detailed CFD model. The proposed porosity model can be adapted for recuperation systems with varying heat exchanger designs having different core arrangements and tubes sizes and configurations, providing an efficient tool for the optimization of the heat exchangers design and leading to an increase of the overall aero engine performance.