Direct simulation of turbulent heat transfer in swept flow over a wire in a channel

R. Ranjan, C. Pantano, P. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate heat transfer characteristics of a turbulent swept flow in a channel with a wire placed over one of its walls using direct numerical simulation. This geometry is a model of the flow through the wire-wrapped fuel pins, the heat exchanger, typical of many civil nuclear reactor designs. The swept flow configuration generates a recirculation bubble with net mean axial flow. A constant inward heat flux from the walls of the channel is applied. A key aspect of this flow is the presence of a high temperature region at the contact line between the wire and the channel wall, due to thermal confinement (stagnation). We analyze the variation of the temperature in the recirculation bubble at Reynolds number based on the bulk velocity along the wire-axis direction and the channel half height of 5400. Four cases are simulated with different flowrates transverse to the wire-axis direction. This configuration is topologically similar to backward-facing steps or slots with swept flow, except that the dominant flow is along the obstacle axis in the present study and the crossflow is smaller than the axial flow, i.e., the sweep angle is large. The temperature field is simulated at three different Prandtl numbers: 10 -2, 10-1 and 1. The lower value of Prandtl number is characteristic of experimental high-temperature reactors that use a molten salt as coolant while the high value is typical of gas (or water vapor) heat exchangers. In addition, mean temperature, turbulence statistics, instantaneous wall temperature distribution and Nusselt number variation are investigated. The peak Nusselt number occurs close to the reattachment location, on the lee side of the wire, and is about 50-60% higher compared to the case without crossflow. The high temperature region follows the growth of the recirculation bubble which increases by about 65% from the lowest to highest amount of crossflow. Particular attention is devoted to the temperature distribution on the walls of the channel and the surface of the wire. The behavior of the heat-flux across the mean dividing streamline of the recirculation bubble is investigated to quantify the local heat transfer rates occurring in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4636-4654
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Channel flow
  • Direct numerical simulation
  • Flow over a wire
  • Nusselt number
  • Passive scalar
  • Turbulent swept flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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