CFD and experimental study on the effect of progressive heating on fluid flow inside a thermal wind tunnel

Chaudhry, Hassam Nasarullah and Calautit, John Kaiser and Hughes, Ben Richard and Sim, Lik Fang (2015) CFD and experimental study on the effect of progressive heating on fluid flow inside a thermal wind tunnel. Computation, 3 (4). pp. 509-527. ISSN 1866-9964 (

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A detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and experimental investigation into characterizing the fluid flow and thermal profiles in a wind tunnel was carried out, highlighting the effect of progressive heating on the non-uniformity flow profile of air. Using controllable electrical heating elements, the operating temperatures in the test-section were gradually increased in order to determine its influence on the subsequent velocity and thermal profiles found inside the test-section. The numerical study was carried out using CFD FLUENT code, alongside validating the experimental results. Good correlation was observed as the comparison yielded a mean error of 6.4% for the air velocity parameter and 2.3% for the air temperature parameter between the two techniques. The good correlation established between the numerically predicted and experimentally tested results identified broad scope for using the advanced computational capabilities of CFD applicable to the thermal modeling of wind tunnels. For a constant temperature process, the non-uniformity and turbulence intensity in the test section was 0.9% and 0.5%, which is under the recommended guidelines for wind tunnels. The findings revealed that the increase in temperature from 20 °C to 50 °C reduced the velocity by 15.2% inside the test section.