A computational fluid dynamics and effectiveness-NTU based co-simulation approach for flow mal-distribution analysis in microchannel heat exchanger headers

Long Huang*, Moon Soo Lee, Khaled Saleh, Vikrant Aute, Reinhard Radermacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Refrigerant flow mal-distribution is a practical challenge in most microchannel heat exchangers (MCHXs) applications. Geometry design, uneven heat transfer and pressure drop in the different microchannel tubes are three main reasons leading to the flow mal-distribution. To efficiently and accurately account for these three effects, a new MCHX co-simulation approach is proposed in this paper. The proposed approach combines a detailed header simulation based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and a robust effectiveness-based finite volume tube-side heat transfer and refrigerant flow modeling tool. The co-simulation concept is demonstrated on a ten-tube MCHX case study. Gravity effect and uneven airflow effect were numerically analyzed using both water and condensing R134a as the working fluids. The approach was validated against experimental data for an automotive R134a condenser. The inlet header was cut open after the experimental data had been collected. The detailed header geometry was reproduced using the proposed CFD header model. Good prediction accuracy was achieved compared to the experimental data. The presented co-simulation approach is capable of predicting detailed refrigerant flow behavior while accurately predicts the overall heat exchanger performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-457
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Computational fluid dynamic
  • Effectiveness-NTU based model
  • Flow distribution
  • Header simulation
  • Microchannel heat exchanger

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