Evaluation of Internal Fin Geometry for Heat Transfer Enhancement in Automobile Exhaust Energy Harvesting Systems

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Virginia Tech

Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are currently being explored for their potential in harvesting energy from automobile exhaust. TEGs in form of an appropriate TEG- Heat exchanger module can utilize the temperature difference between the hot exhaust gases and the automobile coolant and convert it into electrical voltage. The amount of power is anticipated to be a few hundred watts depending on the temperature gradient and the material of the TEGs.

The focus of this study is increasing the hot side heat transfer for improved performance of the thermoelectric generators using two different internal fins — louvered fins and herringbone wavy fins. The multi-louvered fins basically have 'multi flat plate' behavior and will enhance the heat transfer by deflecting the air from its original path and aligning it with the plane of the louvers. Herringbone fins are used to lengthen the path of airflow allowing for greater residence time and better mixing of the flow. They also provide for greater wetted surface area achieving higher heat transfer. The flow and heat transfer behavior inside the exhaust pipe test section with internal fins is modeled using commercial numerical software.

The thermal and flow behavior through both these internal fins depends to a large extent on geometric parameters and fin arrangement. Optimization of the fin design is considered to determine the configuration that provides highest heat transfer while providing least pressure drop across the pipe length. The heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics are compared to the baseline flow without any fin enhancement.

Heat Transfer enhancement, Heat exchanger, Louvered fins, Herringbone wavy fins, Thermoelectric generation, TEG