Investigation of Fouling in Wavy-Fin Exhaust Gas Recirculators

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation presents a detailed account of the study undertaken on the subject of fouling of Exhaust Gas Recirculator (EGR) coolers. The fouling process in EGR coolers is identified to be due to two primary reasons — deposition of fine soot particles and condensation of hydrocarbons known as dry soot and wet soot fouling, respectively. Several numerical simulations are performed to study the fouling process. Preliminary analysis of the particle forces for representative conditions reveal that drag, thermophoresis and Brownian forces are the significant transport mechanisms and among them, the deposition process is dominated by thermophoresis. Soot deposition in a representative turbulent plain channel shows a direct relationship of the amount of deposition with the near-wall temperature gradient. Subsequently, periodic and developing flow simulations are performed on a wavy channel geometry, a common EGR design for various Reynolds numbers and thermal boundary conditions. Constant heat flux boundary condition is used in the periodic fully-developed calculations, which assist in establishing various deposition trends. The wavy nature of the walls is noted to affect the fouling process, resulting in specific deposition patterns. For the lower Reynolds number flows, significantly higher deposition is observed due to the higher particle residence times. On the other hand, the developing flow calculations facilitate the use of wall temperature distributions that typically exist in EGR coolers. The linear dependence of the amount of deposition on the near-wall temperature gradient or in other words, the heat flux, is ascertained. It is also observed in all the calculations, that for the sub-micron soot particles considered, the deposition process is almost independent of the particle size. In addition, the nature of the flow and heat transfer characteristics and the transition to turbulence in a developing wavy channel are studied in considerable detail. Finally, a study on the condensation of heavy hydrocarbons is undertaken as a post-processing step, which facilitates the prediction of the spatial distribution and time-growth of the combined fouling layer. From the calculations, the maximum thickness of the dry soot layer is observed to be near the entrance, whereas for the wet soot layer, the peak is found to be towards the exit of the EGR cooler. Further, parametric studies are carried out to investigate the effect of various physical properties and inlet conditions on the process of fouling.

Exhaust gas recirculator fouling, Wall temperature gradient, Soot particle deposition, Thermophoresis, Wavy channel flow