heat exchanger, a-type heat exchanger, airflow maldistribution, heat exchanger optimization
Air-to-refrigerant heat exchangers (HXs) have been the topic of considerable research as they are the fundamental heat transfer components of HVAC&R systems. For residential and commercial applications, indoor heat exchangers are often in A-type configurations to reduce air-conditioner system footprint while still delivering the required cooling or heating. Classical HX design practices typically assume a uniform frontal air velocity profile to facilitate the use of conventional tube-fin airside heat transfer and pressure drop correlations for performance prediction. However, it is well-reported throughout the literature that A-type HXs experience significant airflow maldistribution which can severely degrade HX performance. Additionally, recent advancements in simulation software such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and optimization algorithms have led researchers to consider primary heat transfer surface optimization to achieve highly compact HXs which do not require fins. In this paper, an A-type HX which utilizes shape-optimized non-round tubes is optimized for minimum duct size and airside pressure drop. This is achieved through coupling of an experimentally validated finite volume HX model with automated 2D CFD simulations of airflow through the HX for airside thermal-hydraulic performance evaluation. Preliminary results show that the optimal designs deliver similar capacity while achieving 20% reductions in airside pressure drop and duct cross-section area. Additionally, the optimal design apex angles in this study were similar to those from previous A-Type HX optimization studies for conventional tube-fin HX geometries, suggesting that the apex angle for optimal A-Type configuration performance may be independent of tube geometry.