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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Temperature on the Flow and Heat Transfer in Gel Fuels: A Numerical Study

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School of Mechanical Engineering, Nanjing University of Science & Technology, Nanjing 210094, Jiangsu, China
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U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2020, 13(4), 821; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13040821
Received: 29 November 2019 / Revised: 29 December 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2020 / Published: 13 February 2020
In general, rheological properties of gelled fuels change dramatically when temperature changes. In this work, we investigate flow and heat transfer of water-gel in a straight pipe and a tapered injector for non-isothermal conditions, which mimic the situations when gelled fuels are used in propulsion systems. The gel-fluid is modeled as a non-Newtonian fluid, where the viscosity depends on the shear rate and the temperature; a correlation fitted with experimental data is used. For the fully developed flow in a straight pipe with heating, the mean apparent viscosity at the cross section when the temperature is high is only 44% of the case with low temperature; this indicates that it is feasible to control the viscosity of gel fuel by proper thermal design of pipes. For the flow in the typical tapered injector, larger temperature gradients along the radial direction results in a more obvious plug flow; that is, when the fuel is heated the viscosity near the wall is significantly reduced, but the effect is not obvious in the area far away from the wall. Therefore, for the case of the tapered injector, as the temperature of the heating wall increases, the mean apparent viscosity at the outlet decreases first and increases then due to the high viscosity plug formed near the channel center, which encourages further proper design of the injector in future. Furthermore, the layer of low viscosity near the walls plays a role similar to lubrication, thus the supply pressure of the transport system is significantly reduced; the pressure drop for high temperature is only 62% of that of low temperature. It should be noticed that for a propellent system the heating source is almost free; therefore, by introducing a proper thermal design of the transport system, the viscosity of the gelled fuel can be greatly reduced, thus reducing the power input to the supply pressure at a lower cost. View Full-Text
Keywords: gel; non-Newtonian fluid; constitutive model; temperature; temperature-dependent viscosity; pressure drop gel; non-Newtonian fluid; constitutive model; temperature; temperature-dependent viscosity; pressure drop
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cao, Q.-L.; Wu, W.-T.; Liao, W.-H.; Feng, F.; Massoudi, M. Effects of Temperature on the Flow and Heat Transfer in Gel Fuels: A Numerical Study. Energies 2020, 13, 821.

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