Diameter effect on the heat transfer of supercritical hydrocarbon fuel in horizontal tubes under turbulent conditions

Zeyuan Cheng, Zhi Tao, Jianqin Zhu, Hongwei Wu

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This article presented a numerical investigation of supercritical heat transfer of the hydrocarbon fuel in a series of horizontal tubes with different diameters. The Reynolds averaging equations of mass, momentum and energy with the LS low-Reynolds number turbulence model have been solved using the pressure-based segregated solver based on the finite volume method. For the purpose of comparison, a four-species surrogate model and a ten-species surrogate model of the aviation kerosene RP-3 (Rocket Propellant 3) were tested against the published experimental data. In the current study, the tube diameter varied from 2 mm to 10 mm and the pressure was 3 MPa with heat flux to mass flux ratios ranging from 0.25 to 0.71 kJ/kg. It was found that the buoyancy has significant effect on the wall temperature non-uniformity in the horizontal tube. With the increase of the diameter, the buoyancy effect enhances and the thermal-induced acceleration effect reduces. The buoyancy effect makes wall temperature at the top and bottom generatrices of the horizontal tube increase and decrease, respectively. Due to the coupled effect of the buoyancy and thermal-induced acceleration caused by the significant change of the properties, as the diameter increases, the heat transfer deteriorates dramatically at the top generatrix but remains almost unchanged at the bottom generatrix at high heat flux to mass flux ratio. Heat transfer enhancement is observed at low heat flux to mass flux ratio when the tube diameter is less than 6 mm. Moreover, the safety analysis has been performed in order to optimally design the supercritical cooling system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Diameter
  • Heat transfer
  • Horizontal tube
  • Hydrocarbon
  • Supercritical


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