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Modelling CFD flow and heat transfer


One common objective to many industries is to reduce energy consumption of their equipment. Modelling a flow with CFD and heat transfer numerical simulation inside a thermal fatigue testing machine leads to optimise its energy consumption.

Objectives from modelling CFD flow and heat transfer

The thermal fatigue machine built by Défi Systèmes allows to test metallic parts during cycles of increasing and decreasing temperature with maximum value reaching 600°C.

One test can last for a week and is always monitored by different equipment (cameras, thermocouples, infrared thermometer) positioned at the top of the machine. This equipment cannot stand very high temperatures so the issue was to be able to cool down the walls whilst keeping the heated part at the testing temperature of 600°C with a limited amount of energy.

Technical solution to the problem

A flow of Helium is modelled and simulated to be able to control the temperature in different areas of the machine:

  1. Laminar Navier-Stokes equations simulates the flow of Helium.
  2. Heat transfer by conduction, convection and radiation simulates the gradients and distribution of temperature, both inside the solid components and in the flow of Helium.

Results from the CFD model and information extracted

The CFD and heat transfer simulation helped the manufacturer to choose a design and the flow rate of Helium with three achievements:

  • efficiently cool down the walls and top of the machine to keep the equipment safe and not damage by high temperature exposure;
  • without cooling down the center of the machine where is the metallic part that is heated to be tested;
  • hence reducing the energy consumption.

Value from CFD and heat transfer model

The CFD simulation also showed that the cooling was more efficient with a lower flow rate than what was initially planned, which means that turbulences could also be decreased in the central zone where energy is sent to heat up the part.

Last, the simulation helped to cut the developement time of the machine by months, and costs were controlled too because insulation material was then not needed on the walls of the machine.

Modelling of the thermal fatigue testing machine

Initial geometry of the machine modelled in 3D: the equipment would be positionned on the windows on top of the machine.

Symmetry simplification of the 3D modelling for numerical simulation

The geometry is drawn in half inside COMSOL thanks to a symmetry plane, and fully parameterised to change dimensions.

Simulation of heat transfer by radiation from metallic part to the walls

Radiative heat transfer from the part heated at 600°C to the walls of the machine.

Modelling CFD flow and heat transfer inside the testing machine

Optimisation of the flow of Helium (flow rate and inlet/outlet positions) and visualisation of the turbulent zones with streamlines.

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Our simulation expertise can help companies from industries such as Medtech (health), audio, sensors, energy and environment but also research labs that would need powerful simulation hardware and software. Contact us to learn more.

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