Parametric CFD study for finding the optimal tube arrangement of a fin-and-tube heat exchanger with plain fins in a marine environment

Turo Välikangas, Mikko Folkersma, Miikka Dal Maso, Tuomo Keskitalo, Petteri Peltonen, Ville Vuorinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In the past, fin-and tube heat exchanger (FTHE) tube pattern ratios have been largely based on ad-hoc design principles. Here, we investigate the optimal tube arrangements for a FTHE with plain fins in marine environments represented by two different air types; one for unfiltered air with high condensation rate and one for clean dry filtered air conditions. The thermal-hydraulic efficiency of the FTHE design is measured by comparing a modified ratio of Colburn j-factor and Fanning friction factor. The regression model generated from the CFD data is then used to identify the maximum efficiency for two design specific fin pitches separately. We identified two optimal tube patterns: one for a large fin pitch for unfiltered air, and another for a small fin pitch for filtered air. Manufacturing restrictions were found to significantly limit the maximum achievable efficiency of a tube pattern. By neglecting the related manufacturing restrictions, 4% higher efficiency for a fin pitch of 1.5 mm and 23% higher efficiency for a fin pitch of 3.5 mm is achieved. Without any application specific limitations or manufacturing restrictions the fin pitch 1.5 mm can have a 36% increased efficiency than fin pitch 3.5 mm. These novel results show that development in manufacturing have potential for significant improvements in thermal-hydraulic efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117642
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Early online date22 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Conjugate heat transfer
  • Fin-and-tube
  • Heat exchanger
  • Plain fin

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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