Air-to-refrigerant heat exchangers used in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems routinely experience air-side fouling due to the presence of particulates in outdoor and indoor environments. The influence on the performance of the heat exchanger, in terms of heat transfer efficiency and pressure drop imposed, depends on the extent of air-side fouling. Fouling of a heat exchanger is determined by a variety of parameters such as the dimensions of the heat exchanger, physical properties of the airborne particulates, and airflow conditions over the heat exchange surfaces. A comprehensive model is developed to deterministically calculate the extent of fouling of a heat exchanger as a function of these parameters by accounting for each of the possible deposition mechanisms. The study enhances modeling approaches previously employed in the literature by accounting for time-dependent accumulation of particles as well as the effects of the streamwise distribution of accumulated dust on subsequent fouling; the calculations for the deposition due to several of the mechanisms are also refined to improve prediction accuracy. Particulate matter deposits already present on the surface are found to accelerate the process of fouling by decreasing available area for airflow; an existing deposit layer effectively decreases the distance that a particle must travel to collide with a surface and increases the surface area available for deposition. The modified model predictions are compared against extant experimental deposition fraction data; an improved agreement is observed compared to previous models in the literature.


Particulate matter, Heat exchanger, Air-side fouling, HVAC&R

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H. Inamdar, E. A. Groll, J. A. Weibel, and S. V. Garimella, “Prediction of Air-Side Particulate Fouling of HVAC&R Heat Exchangers,” Applied Thermal Engineering, Vol. 104, pp. 720-733, 2016.