Thermal-hydraulic performance of metal foam heat exchangers under dry operating conditions

Kashif Nawaz, Jessica Bock, Anthony M. Jacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High porosity metal foams with novel thermal, mechanical, electrical, and acoustic properties are being more widely adopted for application. Due to their large surface-area-to-volume ratio and complex structure which induces better fluid mixing, boundary layer restarting and wake destruction, they hold promise for heat transfer applications. In this paper, the thermal-hydraulic performance of open-cell aluminum metal foam heat exchanger has been evaluated. The impact of flow conditions and metal foam geometry on the heat transfer coefficient and gradient have been investigated. Metal foam heat exchanger with same geometry (face area, flow depth and fin dimensions) consisting of four different type of metal foams have been built for the study. Experiments are conducted in a closed-loop wind tunnel at different flow rate under dry operating condition. Metal foams with a smaller pore size (40 PPI) have a larger heat transfer coefficient compared to foams with a larger pore size (5 PPI). However, foams with larger pores result in relatively smaller pressure gradients. Current thermal-hydraulic modeling practices have been reviewed and potential issues have been identified. Permeability and inertia coefficients are determined and compared to data reported in open literature. On the basis of the new experimental results, correlations are developed relating the foam characteristics and flow conditions through the friction factor f and the Colburn j factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-232
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
StatePublished - 2017


  • Heat exchanger
  • Heat transfer coefficient
  • Metal foams
  • Pressure drop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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