Enhancing thermal performance of heat exchanger by using different 4-lobed swirl tube arrangements

Xingyu Feng, Nicholas J. Miles, Guozhen Li, Zheng Wang, Philip Hall

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This study numerically and experimentally investigated the thermal performance of a 4-lobed swirl tube. A double-pipe heat exchanger was built using 3D-printed steel tubes with PD ratios ranging from 4, 6 to 8. In addition, a 3D-printed circular pipe was also manufactured to investigate the influence of the 3D-printing method. In the experimental results, the PD4 decaying swirl tube had the highest performance for all PD ratios. The effects of different pitch-to-diameter (PD) ratios and tube arrangements on the swirl pipe were also investigated during simulations. The results reveal that the tube with a smaller PD ratio and crossover arrangement has a larger thermal enhancement and pressure drop. However, in comparison, the decaying arrangement has a relatively higher overall performance since it has a lower pressure drop. The PD6 decaying tube arrangement is the highest, especially at higher Reynolds numbers. Moreover, by showing the streamline within the swirl tube, small-scale vortices are found within the swirl tube, especially in the crossover arrangement. These vortices are formed due to the swirl motion and can enhance mixing and the heat transfer rate. Based on these simulation results, a regular-spaced swirl tube arrangement is proposed and its thermal performance is evaluated. In the experimental results, the PD4 decaying swirl tube gave the highest overall performance from 1.12 to 1.09 across all configurations. In the numerical results, the regularly-spaced swirl tube can further improve the overall performance with moderate pressure drop. Type 2 PD4 has the highest performance value at 1.06.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107692
JournalInternational Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2024


  • 3D-printing
  • 4-lobed tube
  • Double pipe heat exchanger
  • Regular-spaced tube
  • Swirl flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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