Adaptive mesh refinement method for the reduction of computational costs while simulating slug flow

J. Potgieter, L. Lombaard, J. Hannay, M. A. Moghimi*, P. Valluri, J. P. Meyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Microchannel flow boiling has been the focus of many experimental and numerical investigations due to the high heat transfer coefficients that it can induce. However, experimental research has been limited due to the small scales involved, leading researchers to employ computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to resolve the dearth of research on microchannel flow boiling. Conventional CFD methods use a fine uniform mesh to capture the small scales and gradients, such as the liquid-vapour interface. This method has a large computational cost, and as a result, most research reported in the literature has been limited to two-dimensional axisymmetric domains. An interface-tracking adaptive mesh refinement model was created in this study to overcome the limitation of high computational costs without losing accuracy. This model dynamically refined the mesh only in the regions of interest and allowed a coarser mesh in the rest of the domain. This novel approach was able to recreate previously published results with a maximum error of 6.7%, while using less than 1.6% of the mesh elements. Several simulations were conducted in ANSYS Fluent 19.1 to determine the optimal settings for this new method to maintain accuracy and reduce cell count. These settings were determined as three levels of refinement (δL = 3), four refined cells on either side of the interface (δM = 4), and was implemented every five time steps (δT = 5). Finally, a case study was conducted to illustrate the possibility of simulating two-phase flow in microchannels in three dimensions with this method.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105702
JournalInternational Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
Volume129
Early online date23 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Adaptive mesh refinement
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Flow boiling
  • Microchannel

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