Numerical investigation of several twisted tubes with non-conventional tube cross sections on heat transfer and pressure drop

  • B. IndurainEmail author
  • D. Uystepruyst
  • F. Beaubert
  • S. Lalot
  • Á. Helgadóttir


Numerical simulations were performed with the open-source CFD software OpenFOAM to investigate the ability of several configurations of short-length twisted tube geometries with non-circular cross section connected to tubes with circular cross section to induce a swirling flow. The heat transfer and the pressure drop linked to the generated swirling flow are also calculated. The swirling flow is modeled using a k-ω SST turbulence model with a low-Reynolds approach. It is shown that a short-length twisted tube with an elliptical cross section (STE) is able to generate a swirling flow, but its intensity greatly depends on its twist pitch and its aspect ratio. The lower the aspect ratio, the higher the swirl intensity. For a Reynolds number ranging from 10,000 to 100,000, the results reveal that compared to a plain tube, the STE with the lowest aspect ratio achieves enhancing the heat transfer from 22 to 90% at the cost of an increased pressure drop of, respectively, 63 and 129%. The second part of the study is focused on a short-length twisted tube with a three-lobed cross section, and the results reveal that the generated swirling flow is even more intense than with the STE and that the heat transfer enhancement goes from 30 to 105% at the cost of an increased pressure drop from 137 to 180%.


Twisted tubes Elliptical Three-lobed Decaying swirling flow Heat transfer CFD 

List of symbols


Major axis of the ellipse, m


Wetted area, m2


Minor axis of the ellipse, m


Aspect ratio of the ellipse, dimensionless


Specific heat capacity, J kg−1 K−1


Skin friction coefficient, dimensionless


Pressure drop, Pa


Hydraulic diameter, m


Quantity to evaluate for the GCI


Friction factor coefficient, dimensionless


Grid convergence index


Heat transfer coefficient, W m−2 K−1


Turbulence intensity, dimensionless


Turbulent kinetic energy, J kg−1


Turbulent mixing length, m


Total length of the tested tube, m


Mass flow rate, kg s−1


Nusselt number, dimensionless


Twist pitch, m


Refinement ratio, dimensionless


Reynolds number, dimensionless


Swirl number, dimensionless


Temperature, K


Fluid velocity, m s−1


Heat flux, W


Axial position, m


Dimensionless axial position (z Dh−1)


Downstream dimensionless axial position z* = 24


Order of accuracy for the GCI, dimensionless


Thermal conductivity, W m−1 K−1


Dynamic viscosity, Pa.s


Fluid density, kg m−3


Wall shear stress, Pa


Turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate, s−1



Inlet value




Downstream tube


Logarithmic mean temperature difference


Inlet of energy balance (z* = 0)


Outlet of energy balance (z* = 51)


Plain tube


Short element of twisted oval tube


Short element of twisted three-lobed tube


Transition tube


Upstream tube





Area averaged quantity



The authors would like to thank the financial support of the Association Nationale Recherche Technologie (ANRT) through the CIFRE Grant No. 2017/1437.


  1. 1.
    Hasanpour A, Farhadi M, Sedighi K. A review study on twisted tape inserts on turbulent flow heat exchangers: the overall enhancement ratio criteria. Int Commun Heat Mass Transf. 2014;55:53–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bahiraei M, Mazaheri N, Hassanzamani S. Efficacy of a new graphene-platinum nanofluid in tubes fitted with single and twin twisted tapes regarding counter and co-swirling flows for efficient use of energy. Int J Mech Sci. 2019;150:290–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bahiraei M, Mazaheri N, Aliee F. Second law analysis of a hybrid nanofluid in tubes equipped with double twisted tape inserts. Powder Technol. 2019;345:692–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zhang S, Lu L, Dong C, Cha SH. Performance evaluation of a double-pipe heat exchanger fitted with self-rotating twisted tapes. Appl Therm Eng. 2019;158:113770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Eiamsa-ard P, Piriyarungroj N, Thianpong C, Eiamsa-ard S. A case study on thermal performance assessment of a heat exchanger tube equipped with regularly-spaced twisted tapes as swirl generators. Case Stud Therm Eng. 2014;3:86–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Eiamsa-ard S, Thianpongb C, Eiamsa-ard P, Promvonge P. Convective heat transfer in a circular tube with short-length twisted tape insert. Int Commun Heat Mass Transf. 2009;36(4):365–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nandagawli A, Kriplani V, Walke P. Effect of swirl producing turbine type inserts on heat transfer enhancement using passive method: a review. Int J Sci Res Dev. 2016;3(12):472–4.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shome B, Jensen M. Review on laminar flow and heat transfer in internally finned tubes. J Enhanc Heat Transf. 2017;24(1–6):339–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mohapatra K, Mallick R, Das D, Pothal S. Internal finned tube heat transfer equipment for higher performance. Int J Adv Mech Eng. 2018;8:199–204.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Van Goethem M, Jelsma E. Numerical and experimental study of enhanced heat transfer and pressure drop for high temperature applications. Chem Eng Res Des. 2014;92:663–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rocha A, Bannwart A, Ganzarolli M. Numerical and experimental study of an axially induced swirling pipe flow. Int J Heat Fluid Flow. 2015;53:81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ahmadvand M, Najafi A, Shahidinejad S. An experimental study and CFD analysis towards heat transfer and fluid flow characteristics of decaying swirl pipe flow generated by axial vanes. Meccanica. 2010;45:111–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bali T, Saraç B. Experimental investigation of decaying swirl flow through a circular pipe for binary combination of vortex generators. Int Commun Heat Mass Transf. 2014;53:174–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Navickaité K, Cattani L, Bahl C, Engelbrecht K. Elliptical double corrugated tubes for enhanced heat transfer. Int J Heat Mass Transf. 2018;128:363–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wu C, Chen C, Yang Y, Huang K. Numerical simulation of turbulent flow forced convection in a twisted elliptical tube. Int J Therm Sci. 2018;132:199–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Xin F, Liu Z, Zheng N, Liu P, Liu W. Numerical study on flow characteristics and heat transfer enhancement of oscillatory flow in a spirally corrugated tube. Int J Heat Mass Transf. 2018;127:402–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Tan X, Zhu D, Zhou G, Zeng L. Experimental and numerical study of convective heat transfer and fluid flow in twisted oval tubes. Int J Heat Mass Transf. 2012;55:4701–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Omidi M, Farhadi M, Jafari M. Numerical study on the effect of using spiral tube with lobed cross section in double-pipe heat exchangers. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2018;134(3):2397–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Omidi M, Farhadi M, Darzi AAR. Numerical study of heat transfer on using lobed cross sections in helical coil heat exchangers: effect of physical and geometrical parameters. Energy Convers Manag. 2018;176:236–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jafari M, Dabiri S, Farhadi M, Sedighi K. Effects of a three-lobe swirl generator on the thermal and flow fields in a heat exchanging tube: an experimental and numerical approach. Energy Convers Manag. 2017;148:1358–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zhou J, Du C, Liu S, Liu Y. Comparison of three types of swirling generators in coarse particle pneumatic conveying using CFD–DEM simulation. Powder Technol. 2016;301:1309–13020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Indurain B, Beaubert F, Uystepruyst D, Lalot S, Couvrat M. Numerical investigation of various geometries of steam cracking tubes for reduced fouling rate. In: Proceedings of heat exchangers fouling and cleaning XIII; 2019.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Greenshield C. CFD direct Ltd, OpenFOAM User Guide version 4.0, ©2011–2016 OpenFOAM Foundation Ltd.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Tang X, Dai X, Zhu D. Experimental and numerical investigation of convective heat transfer and fluid flow in twisted spiral tube. Int J Heat Mass Transf. 2015;90:523–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Robertson E, Choudhurry V, Bhushan S, Walters D. Validation of OpenFOAM numerical methods and turbulence models for incompressible bluff body flows. Comput Fluids. 2015;123:122–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Roache P. Perspective: a method for uniform reporting of grid refinement studies. J Fluids Eng. 1994;116:405–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ali M, Doolan C, Wheatley V. Grid convergence study for two-dimensional simulation of flow around a square cylinder at a low Reynolds number. In: 7th International conference on CFD in the minerals and process industries; 2009.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Juretic F. cfMesh User Guide (v1.1), 2015.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kitoh O. Experimental study of turbulent swirling flow in a straight pipe. J Fluid Mech. 1991;225:445–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Steenbergen W, Voskamp J. The rate of decay of swirl in turbulent pipe flow. Flow Meas Instrum. 1998;9:67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Najafi A, Mousavian S, Amini A. Numerical investigations on swirl intensity decay rate for turbulent swirling flow in a fixed pipe. Int J Mech Sci. 2011;53:801–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Beaubert F, Pálsson H, Lalot S, Choquet I, Bauduin H. Fundamental mode of freely decaying laminar swirling flows. Appl Math Model. 2016;40(13–14):6218–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Webb RL, Eckert ERG. Application of rough surfaces to heat exchanger design. Int J Heat Mass Transf. 1972;15:1647–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Indurain
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Uystepruyst
    • 1
  • F. Beaubert
    • 1
  • S. Lalot
    • 1
  • Á. Helgadóttir
    • 2
  1. 1.LAMIH UMR CNRS 8201Polytechnic University Hauts-de-FranceValenciennesFrance
  2. 2.Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer ScienceUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

Personalised recommendations