Large-eddy and RANS simulations were performed to examine the details of the heat-transfer mechanisms in a U-duct with a high-aspect ratio trapezoidal cross section at a Reynolds number of 20,000. ANSYS-Fluent was used to perform the simulations. For the large-eddy simulations (LES), the WALE subgrid-scale model was employed, and its inflow boundary condition was provided by a concurrent LES of incompressible fully-developed flow in a straight duct with the same cross section and flow conditions as the U-duct. The grid resolution required to obtain meaningful LES solutions were obtained via a grid sensitivity study of incompressible fully-developed turbulent flow in a straight duct of square cross section, where data from direct numerical simulation (DNS) and experiments are available to validate and guide the simulation. In addition, the grid used satisfies Celik’s criterion, and resolves the Kolmogorov’s −5/3 law. Results were also obtained for the U-duct by using RANS, and three widely used turbulence models were examined — realizable k-ε with the two-layer model in the near-wall region, shear-stress transport (SST) model, and stress-omega full Reynolds stress model (RSM). Results obtained from LES showed unsteady flow separation to occur immediately after the turn region, which none of the RANS models could predict. By being able to capture this unsteady flow mechanism, LES was able to predict the measured heat-transfer downstream of the U-duct. The maximum relative error in the predicted local heat-transfer coefficient was less than 10% in the LES results, but up to 80% in the RANS results.

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