The performance of a falling-film heat exchanger is strongly linked to the surface characteristics and the heat transfer processes that take place over the tubes. The primary aim of this numerical study is to characterize the influence of surface wettability of tubes on the falling film flow mode and its associated surface heat transfer. Surface wettability is generally characterized by the contact angle and, in this study, the wettability characteristics ranged from superhydrophilic to a superhydrophobic tube surface. The dynamic motion of the triple contact line connecting the solid, liquid and gas phases over the tube surface is replicated with the help of the Kistler’s dynamic contact angle model. The volume of Fluid (VOF) simulations was carried out for the flow and heat transfer of liquid flow over horizontal tubes with different surface wettabilities. The mass flow rate is such that the flow is in the jet mode where the liquid flows in the form of jets in between the horizontal tubes. This corresponds to a liquid mass flow rate per unit tube length of 0.06 and 0.18 Kg/m-s, under which the inline and staggered jets modes of flow are observed. Under the two flow rates and different surface wettabilities, the liquid flow hydrodynamics over the tube surfaces was explored in terms of the liquid film thickness, the contact areas (solid-liquid and liquid-air) between the different phases, and the heat transfer coefficient. The axial resistance imposed by the increasing contact angle tends to inhibit the extent of the liquid spreading over the tube surface and this, in turn, influences the liquid film thickness and the wetted area of the tube surface. A significant decrement in the heat transfer rate from the tube surfaces was observed as the equilibrium contact angle ranged from 2° to 175°. Heat transfer characteristics were quantified over a wide range of contact angles for the two mass flow rates. Fluid recirculations were observed in the liquid bulk which had a major impact on the heat transfer distribution over the tube surface.

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