Air-side heat-transfer enhancement by a new winglet-type vortex generator array in a plain-fin round-tube heat exchanger

J. He, L. Liu, A. M. Jacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of a vortex-generation technique for air-side heat-transfer improvement is experimentally investigated through full-scale wind-tunnel testing of a plain-fin roundtube heat exchanger under dry-surface conditions. Inspired by the formation locomotion of animals in nature, a new vortex generator (VG) array deployed in a "V" is proposed in the present work, aiming to create constructive interference between vortices. The array is composed of two delta-winglet pairs and placed at an attack angle of 10 deg or 30 deg. Its effectiveness is compared with a baseline configuration and two conventional single-pair designs placed at 30 deg, a small pair with half the area of the array and a large pair with the same area as the array. The frontal air velocity considered ranges from 2.3 m/s to 5.5 m/s, corresponding to a Reynolds number range based on the hydraulic diameter of 1400-3400. The experimental results show little impact of the 10 deg array and a moderate heat-transfer improvement of up to 32% for the small pair, both introducing additional pressure loss of approximately 20-40%. For the 30 deg array and the large pair, similar augmentation of 25-55% in air-side heat-transfer coefficient is obtained accompanied by average pressure drop penalties of 90% and 140%, respectively. Performance evaluation using the criteria of the modified area goodness factor and the volume goodness factor indicates the superiority of the heat exchanger enhanced by the 30 deg array among all the investigated VGs. The VG array is found more effective at comparatively low Reynolds numbers, representative of many heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration applications and compact heat-exchanger designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • "V" formation
  • Fin-and-tube
  • Heat exchanger
  • Vortex generator
  • Winglet array

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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