ACU-T: 3300 Modeling of a Heat Exchanger Component

This tutorial provides instructions for modeling a heat exchanger component using HyperWorks CFD. Prior to starting this tutorial, you should have already run through the introductory HyperWorks tutorial, ACU-T: 1000 HyperWorks UI Introduction, and have a basic understanding of HyperWorks CFD and AcuSolve. To run this simulation, you will need access to a licensed version of HyperWorks CFD and AcuSolve.

Prior to running through this tutorial, copy from <Altair_installation_directory>\hwcfdsolvers\acusolve\win64\model_files\tutorials\AcuSolve to a local directory. Extract from

Note: This tutorial does not cover the steps related to geometry cleanup and meshing.

Problem Description

Heat exchangers are devices used to facilitate heat exchange between two fluids that are at different temperatures. A typical heat exchanger device has two separate flows, the cross flow and tubular flow. Depending on the temperatures, heat can flow to or from one fluid to the other through the solids separating them. Since the heat exchanger geometry is quite complex with a large number of plates and pipes, it is not realistic to model the actual heat exchanger when performing system level simulations. In such scenarios, a simplified approach can be employed where only the effect of the heat exchanger on the cross flow is considered instead of modeling the actual heat exchanger. This is done using the heat exchanger component available in AcuSolve.

The heat exchanger component has two effects on the cross flow:

  1. Pressure drop which is calculated based on the friction parameters provided by the user.
  2. Heat addition or removal based on the coolant heat transfer parameters.
The problem to be addressed in this tutorial is shown schematically in the figure below. It consists of a cylindrical pipe channel with an interior heat exchanger component volume with thickness ‘t’. Air enters the pipe at a velocity of 0.1 m/sec and flows through the heat exchanger volume and then exits through the outlet. As the air flows through the heat exchanger component, heat is added to it from the coolant such that the total coolant heat reject is 200 W.

Figure 1.

Start HyperWorks CFD and Open the HyperMesh Database

  1. Start HyperWorks CFD from the Windows Start menu by clicking Start > Altair <version> > HyperWorks CFD.
  2. From the Home tools, Files tool group, click the Open Model tool.

    Figure 2.
    The Open File dialog opens.
  3. Browse to the directory where you saved the model file. Select the HyperMesh file and click Open.
  4. Click File > Save As.
  5. Create a new directory named HeatExchanger and navigate into this directory.
    This will be the working directory and all the files related to the simulation will be stored in this location.
  6. Enter HeatExchanger as the file name for the database, or choose any name of your preference.
  7. Click Save to create the database.

Validate the Geometry

The Validate tool scans through the entire model, performs checks on the surfaces and solids, and flags any defects in the geometry, such as free edges, closed shells, intersections, duplicates, and slivers.

To focus on the physics part of the simulation, this tutorial input file contains geometry which has already been validated. Observe that a blue check mark appears on the top-left corner of the Validate icon on the Geometry ribbon. This indicates that the geometry is valid, and you can go to the flow set up.

Figure 3.

Set Up Flow

Set the General Simulation Parameters

  1. From the Flow ribbon, click the Physics tool.

    Figure 4.
    The Setup dialog opens.
  2. Under the Physics models setting:
    1. Verify that Time marching is set to Steady.
    2. Select Spalart-Allmaras as the Turbulence model.
    3. Activate the Heat transfer checkbox.

    Figure 5.
  3. Close the dialog and save the model.

Assign Material Properties

  1. From the Flow ribbon, click the Material tool.

    Figure 6.
  2. Verify that the Air material has been assigned to all three volumes.
  3. Click on the guide bar to exit the tool.

Define the Heat Exchanger Component

  1. From the Flow ribbon, click the arrow next to the Domain tool set, then select Heat Exchanger.

    Figure 7.
  2. Select the middle solid as the heat exchanger component volume.

    Figure 8.
  3. On the guide bar, click Inlet then select the face shown below as the inlet of the heat exchanger component.

    Figure 9.
  4. In the microdialog, enter the following parameters:

    Figure 10.

    Figure 11.
  5. On the guide bar, click to execute the command and exit the tool.
  6. Save the model.

Define Flow Boundary Conditions

  1. From the Flow ribbon, click the Constant tool.

    Figure 12.
  2. Click the inlet face highlighted in the figure below.

    Figure 13.
  3. In the microdialog, enter the following values for the Momentum and Turbulence tabs.

    Figure 14.

    Figure 15.
  4. On the guide bar, click to execute the command and exit the tool.
  5. Click the Outlet tool.

    Figure 16.
  6. Select the face highlighted in the figure below and then click on the guide bar.

    Figure 17.
  7. Save the model.

Generate the Mesh

To focus on the solver setup, the mesh settings are predefined in the input file given to you.
  1. From the Mesh ribbon, click the Volume tool.

    Figure 18.
  2. In the Meshing Operations dialog, set the Mesh growth rate to 1.1 (if not set already).

    Figure 19.
  3. Click Mesh.
    The Run Status dialog opens. Once the run is complete, the status is updated and you can close the dialog.
    Tip: Right-click on the mesh job and select View log file to view a summary of the meshing process.
  4. Save the model.

Run AcuSolve

  1. From the Solution ribbon, click the Run tool.

    Figure 20.
    The Launch AcuSolve dialog opens.
  2. Enter the following text in the additional arguments field: -tlog -lprobe.
    This will instruct AcuSolve to launch the AcuTail and AcuProbe windows, which can be used to monitor the solution as the simulation progresses.
  3. Set the Parallel processing option to Intel MPI.
  4. Optional: Set the number of processors to 4 or 8 based on availability.
  5. Leave the remaining options as default and click Run to launch AcuSolve.

    Figure 21.

Post-Process with AcuProbe

As the solution progresses, the AcuTail and AcuProbe windows are launched automatically. The surface output and residual ratios can be monitored using AcuProbe.

  1. In the AcuProbe window, under the Data Tree, expand Residual Ratio, right-click on Final, and select Plot All.
    Note: You might need to click on the toolbar in order to properly display the plot.

    Figure 22.
  2. Once the solution is converged, right-click on Final under Residual Ratio and select Plot None.
  3. Click on the toolbar.
    A User Function dialog opens.
  4. Enter dT as the Name.
  5. Type In = in the Function field.
  6. Expand Heat Exchanger > HX Component. Right-click on air_temperature and select Copy Name. Paste the value in the function after In =.
  7. Type Out = on a new line in the Function field.
  8. Expand Heat Exchanger > HX Component. Right-click on coolant_temperature and select Copy Name. Paste the value in the function after Out =.
  9. On the next line, type value = Out - In.

    Figure 23.
    Note: The word “value” is case sensitive and should always be in lowercase characters. If it starts with a capital letter, it will give you an error window.
  10. Click Apply.
    As shown in the plot below, for the given problem, the temperature rise is 43.30 K.

    Figure 24.


In this tutorial, you successfully learned how to set up and solve a simulation involving a Heat Exchanger component using HyperWorks CFD. You started by opening the HyperMesh input file with the geometry and then defined the simulation parameters, the heat exchanger component, and the flow boundary conditions. Once the solution was computed, you defined a user-function in AcuProbe in order to create a plot of the temperature rise across the heat exchanger volume.