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PCM in Shell and Tube Finned Heat Exchanger CFD Simulation

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The present problem simulates the performance of Phase Change Material (PCM) inside a shell and tube finned heat exchanger.

This product includes a CFD simulation and training files using ANSYS Fluent software.

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Project Description

The present problem simulates the performance of Phase Change Material (PCM) inside a shell and tube finned heat exchanger. The shell is designed as a cylindrical tank carrying phase change materials and these PCMs are evenly distributed inside the tank. Since the PCMs of the present model are based on the phase change between the liquid and solid phases, the solidification and melting model has been used for the current simulation. PCMs have the ability to absorb and store large amounts of latent thermal energy.

Thermal energy storage in PCM is achieved during the process of phase change (solid phase to liquid or vice versa); So that when the phase changes from solid to liquid, it absorbs heat from the environment and when the phase changes from liquid to solid, it returns heat to the environment. These phase change materials have various melting or freezing temperatures and are therefore used in cooling and heating systems; For example, these materials receive ambient heat on a hot day in the form of latent heat and melt, and then return to the environment again by changing the phase and freezing process in the cool night.

Project Description

In the current modeling, the phase change materials are paraffin material which has a density equal to 750 kg.m-3, specific heat capacity 2000, thermal conductivity equal to 0.2 Wm-1.K -1 and the viscosity is equal to 0.008 kg.m-1.s-1. To define the Solidification & Melting model, the maximum temperature at which only the liquid phase prevails (T_solidus) is 314.15 K, the minimum temperature at which only the liquid phase is dominant (T_liquidus) is 317.15 K, and the latent heat of solvent melting at which is pure solvent melting heat is equivalent to 255000

Inside the tank, a 0.001 m thick copper pipe is routed through a winding path, which is responsible for heat transfer and, consequently, the occurrence of phase change of PCM. The water flow with a mass flow of 1.4973 kg.s-1 and a temperature of 325.15 K is flowing inside this pipe and is responsible for heat transfer with the phase change materials inside the tank. Also, cross-shaped fins are used inside the tank and in the pipe path, which helps to strengthen the heat transfer.

These fins are made of copper with a density of 8978 kg.m-3, a specific heat capacity of 381 and a thermal conductivity of 387.6 W.m-1.K-1. Because the simulation process is time-consuming, the simulation process is performed in a time interval of 880 s with a time step of 1200s.

Shell and Tube Finned Heat Exchanger Geometry & Mesh

The current model is designed in three dimensions using Design Modeler software. The model includes a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 0.0485 m and a height of 0.385 m, in the interior of which is a tube with a diameter of 0.0219 m with a winding structure. In the passage of this pipe, several rows of fins have been installed in the form of a cross. PCM

The meshing of the present model has been done using ANSYS Meshing software. The mesh type is structured and the element number is 2989887.


PCM CFD Simulation

To simulate the present model, several assumptions are considered:

  • We perform a pressure-based solver.
  • The simulation is unsteady. So the amount of change in liquid mass fraction over time has been investigated.
  • The gravity effect on the fluid is ignored.

A summary of the defining steps of the problem and its solution is given in the following table:

k-epsilon modelRNG
near-wall treatmentstandard wall function
Solidification & Melting ModelOn
Mushy zone parameter100000
Boundary conditions
Inlet – WaterMass Flow Inlet
mass flow rate1.4973 m.s-1
temperature325.15 K
Outlet – WaterPressure Outlet
gauge pressure0 pascal
Pipe Wall – WaterWall
wall motionstationary wall
thermal conditioncoupled
Tank Wall – PCMWall
wall motionstationary wall
heat flux0 W.m-2
Fin WallWall
thermal conditioncoupled
Pressure-Velocity CouplingCoupled
Pressuresecond order
momentumsecond order upwind
energysecond order upwind
turbulent kinetic energyfirst order upwind
turbulent dissipation ratefirst order upwind
Initialization methodsStandard
gauge pressure0 pascal
x-velocity-0.0657665 m.s-1
y-velocity & z-velocity0 m.s-1
temperature291.15 K


At the end of the solution process, two-dimensional contours related to the temperature and mass fraction of the liquid are obtained. These contours are obtained at the time of the last second of the simulation process, 1200s.

All files, including Geometry, Mesh, Case & Data, are available in Simulation File. By the way, Training File presents how to solve the problem and extract all desired results.


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