Use of a shroud and baffle to improve natural convection to immersed heat exchangers

Sandra K S Boetcher, F. A. Kulacki, Jane H. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Optimizing heat transfer during the charge and discharge of thermal stores is crucial for high performance of solar thermal systems for domestic and commercial applications. This study models a sensible water storage tank for which discharge is accomplished using a heat exchanger immersed in the storage fluid. The heat exchanger is a two-dimensional isothermal cylinder in an adiabatic enclosure with no initial stratification. An adiabatic shroud and baffle whose geometry is parametrically varied is placed around and below the cylinder. Transient numerical simulations of the discharge process are obtained for 10 5 < Ra D < 10 7, and estimates of the time needed to discharge a given fraction of the initial stored energy are obtained. We find that a short baffle is least effective in increasing heat transfer rates. The performance benefit is greatest early in the transient discharge period when the buoyant flow in the store is strongest. As with all flow control devices, the benefit decreases as energy is extracted from the tank and the temperature difference driving the flow decreases. The use of a shroud increases the transient Nusselt number by as much as twentyfold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011010
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 2012


  • baffle
  • immersed heat exchanger
  • negatively buoyant flow
  • shroud
  • thermal stores


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