Numerical Study of Forced Air Cooling of a Heated Porous Foam Pyramid Array


California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, Mechanical Engineering, Non-linear FEA/CFD Multiphysics Simulation Laboratory, Pomona, CA, 91768, USA


The current study employs CFD to study the forced air cooling of a pyramid shaped porous foam absorber. Herein, a three by three (33) array of porous foam absorbers heated with an external heat flux is modeled using the differential equations governing heat and fluid flow through porous media based on the Brinkman- Darcy flow equations and an effective thermal conductivity to account for the porous medium. The numerical simulations are carried out using the COMSOL commercial Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Finite Element based software package. The results of this verification exercise were within 18% of the prior numerical results and within 14% of the archived measured results. Typical results for the velocity and temperature profiles within the porous foam absorbers are shown. A comparison of Nusselt number between our CFD simulations and the heat transfer theory is plotted, showing agreement on the order of 11%. A parametric study involving heat flux, cooling air inlet velocity, porous foam porosity, and porous foam permeability showed that there is a relationship between porosity and the temperature distribution within the porous media. The primary finding of our study is that the more porous the foam absorber media is, the more dependent the effective thermal conductivity is on the thermal conductivity of the fluid used for cooling. If the fluid is air, which has a very low thermal conductivity, the effective thermal conductivity is decreased as the porosity increases, thus diminishing removal of heat from the foam array via the cooling air stream. Based on the parametric study, the best case operating conditions which may allow the pyramidal foam absorber to stay within the max allowable temperature are as follows: porosity = 0.472, inlet air cooling velocity = 50 m/s.