Velocity distributions in a plate heat exchanger channel
The development of a Laser Doppler Anemometer technique to measure the velocity distribution in a commercial plate heat exchanger is described. Detailed velocity profiles are presented and a preliminary investigation is reported on flow behaviour through a single cell in the channel matrix. The objective of the study was to extend previous investigations of plate heat exchanger flow patterns in the laminar range with the eventual aim of establishing the effect of flow patterns on heat transfer performance, thus leading to improved plate heat exchanger design and design methods. Accurate point velocities were obtained by Laser Anemometry in a perspex replica of the metal channel. Oil was used as a circulating liquid with a refractive index matched to that of the perspex so that the laser beams were not distorted. Cell-by-cell velocity measurements over a range of Reynolds number up to ten showed significant liquid mal-distribution. Local cell velocities were found to be as high as twenty seven times average velocity, contrary to the previously held belief of four times. The degree of mal-distribution varied across the channel as well as in the vertical direction, and depended on the upward or downward direction of flow. At Reynolds numbers less than one, flow zig-zagged from one side of the channel to the other in wave form, but increases in Reynolds number improved liquid distribution. A detailed examination of selected cells showed velocity variations in different directions, together with variation within individual cells. Experimental results are also reported on the flow split when passing through a single cell in a section of a channel . These observations were used to explain mal-distribution in the perspex channel itself.