Thermodynamic optimization of flow geometry in mechanical and civil engineering

Journal Article

Recent developments in thermodynamic optimization are reviewed by focusing on the generation of optimal geometric form (shape, structure, topology) in flow systems. The flow configuration is free to vary. The principle that generates geometric form is the pursuit of maximum global performance (e.g., minimum flow resistance, minimum irreversibility) subject to global finiteness constraints (volume, weight, time). The resulting structures constructed in this manner have been named constructal designs. The thought that the same objective and constraints principle accounts for the optimally shaped flow paths that occur in natural systems (animate and inanimate) has been named constructal theory. Examples of large classes of applications are drawn from various sectors of mechanical and civil engineering: the distribution of heat transfer area in power plants, optimal sizing and shaping of flow channels and fins, optimal aspect ratios of heat exchanger core structures, aerodynamic and hydrodynamic shapes, tree-shaped assemblies of convective fins, tree-shaped networks for fluid flow and other currents, optimal configurations for streams that undergo bifurcation or pairing, insulated pipe networks for the distribution of hot water and exergy over a fixed territory, and distribution networks for virtually everything that moves in society (goods, currency, information). The principle-based generation of flow geometry unites the thermodynamic optimization developments known in mechanical engineering with lesser known applications in civil engineering and social organization. This review extends thermodynamics, because it shows how thermodynamic principles of design optimization account for the development of optimal configurations in civil engineering and social organization.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bejan, A; Lorente, S

Published Date

  • 2001

Published In

  • Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 305 - 354

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1515/JNETDY.2002.022