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Latent Heat Flux Analysis for Aerodynamic System Design

Key Takeaways

  • Latent heat flux is related to the energy exchange during phase change.

  • In aerodynamic systems, heat transfer leads to fluctuations in aerodynamic forces.

  • CFD tools can model the latent heat flux to analyze the airfoil behavior and mitigate potential risks.  

 Latent heat flux effects

When dealing with aerodynamic or hydrodynamic fluid systems, the concept of heat transfer and phase change holds significant importance. For instance, when making aerodynamic designs, the amount of energy exchange, phase change, and variation in behavior of the fluid (air) around the airfoil can significantly impact the stability of the flight. As such, it is essential to have a detailed understanding of factors like latent heat flux that significantly impact fluid properties and thus, the system’s performance.

In this article, we will explore the role of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling in the analysis of latent heat flux and energy exchange for aerodynamic system design.

Latent Heat Flux and its Role in Aerodynamics

Heat flux is the measure of heat transfer per unit area per unit of time. The mechanism of heat exchange is generally the result of three different factors – conduction, convection, and radiation. 

For instance, when water is heated, the heat transfers from the source to the fluid. Conduction causes the fluid particles to heat up and eventually convert to vapor. The heat flux associated with these types of reactions is the latent heat flux – i.e., the amount of heat transferred from the surface to the environment during the phase change.

In regards to aerodynamic modeling, the understanding of latent heat flux can be critical to analyzing the aircraft’s performance at different temperatures, densities, and humidity levels. Let us look at some scenarios:

  1. During high-altitude flights, the aircraft generally experiences low air density and temperature. Not only does this affect the flight of the aircraft, but it may also cause condensation. Due to the latent heat, the air around the condensate may get dense and warm, affecting the aerodynamic forces acting on the aircraft – lift and drag. The sudden change is a risk to aerodynamic stability. 

  2. Likewise, in the condition when the aircraft experiences latent heat flux due to evaporation, it causes the surrounding air to be cool and dry due to heat and moisture removal. This results in changes in aerodynamic control. 

The impact of such phase changes in aerodynamic structures can be better analyzed with CFD modeling. 

Visualize Effects of Latent Heat Flux in Aerodynamic Systems With CFD Tools

With CFD tools, it is possible to simulate airflow and visualize the heat transfer behavior around the airfoil. The modeling of phase changes due to heat transfer allows for a better analysis of latent heat flux (due to evaporation or vaporization), which is critical to the design and optimization of the aerodynamic structure.

For analysis, the CFD solver takes into account the airfoil geometry, temperature, and pressure distribution in the airfoil as well as the thermodynamic properties to compute the latent heat flux in the system. These factors are crucial for the detailed assessment of the airfoil-fluid interaction and the resulting fluctuation in aerodynamic forces.

CFD modeling of this heat flux can provide insight into areas where condensation or evaporation can take place. The prediction of this behavior allows the system designers and engineers to develop design strategies to mitigate the risk and enhance stability and efficiency. Reynolds-Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) is a common approach for the solution, which facilitates solving for mass, momentum, and energy transfer equations for latent heat flux analysis. 

Predicting Behavior and Enhancing Efficiency of an Aerodynamic System

Latent heat flux analysis in an aerodynamic system requires an elaborate process of understanding the temperature and pressure distribution, energy exchange, phase change, and its effects on the acting aerodynamic forces. The use of CFD tools is the right approach for simulating these changes and solving complex problems associated with latent heat flux during flight. With a detailed analysis of the impact of phase change, it is possible to identify optimization opportunities so the aerodynamic design is safe and efficient.

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About the Author

With an industry-leading meshing approach and a robust host of solver and post-processing capabilities, Cadence Fidelity provides a comprehensive Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) workflow for applications including propulsion, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, and combustion.

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