Analysis of fin-tube joints in a compact heat exchanger

Hui Zhao, Abraham J. Salazar, Dusan P. Sekulic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article deals with an analysis of fin-tube joints as functions of topological alterations of the joint fillet size. Based on numerical predictions of a joint topology formed by the surface tension driven reactive flow of molten metal, and subsequently verified by empirical evidence gathered through both laboratory and industrial testing, the topology alterations were identified for thermal integrity studies. Subsequently, thermal characteristics of corresponding fin-tube joints were determined in terms of two models of the thermal contact resistance. Model predictions of the fin efficiency with an altered topology of the joint zone were compared with the simulation results from a computational fluid dynamics study, and the results fit well. Numerical predictions of joint topology were devised using an in-house-developed finite-element code, and verified by the Surface Evolver code. Such prediction provided quantitative joint topology information that was needed in assessments of the joint thermal performance. Experimental data were obtained using a computer-controlled transparent hot zone with an ultra-high-purity nitrogen background atmosphere under tightly controlled conditions, and also by an analysis of the state-of-the-art manufacturing process data obtained from an industrial setting. It is demonstrated that a value of fin efficiency, assumed as recommended by traditional sizing design procedures, may drastically differ from actual values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-940
Number of pages10
JournalHeat Transfer Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF grant DMI-9908319 monitored by Dr. Delcie Durham and Dr. Jule Chen). The research was sponsored in part by Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems. The assistance of Dr. C. Pan and R. Anderson in preparing metallographic samples is gratefully acknowledged. An early version of this article was presented at the 2003 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress (IMECE2003-43885), November 15–21, 2003, Washington, DC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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