Tree-shaped flow structures designed by minimizing path lengths
This paper outlines a direct route to the construction of effective tree-shaped flow structures. Dendritic flow structures dominate the design of natural and engineered flow systems, especially in thermal and fluid systems. The starting point is the optimization of the shape of each elemental area or volume, such that the length of the flow path housed by the element is minimized. Proceeding toward larger and more complex structures - from elements, to first constructs, second constructs, etc. - the paper develops tree-shaped flow structures between one point and a straight line, one point and a plane, a circle and its center, and a point and many points distributed uniformly over an area. In the latter, the construction method is applied to a fluid flow configuration with laminar fully developed flow. The constructions reveal several features that are supported by empirical observations of natural tree-shaped flows: asymmetry, flow rate imbalance, pairing or bifurcation, angles between branches, and Y-shaped constructs that lie in a plane. It is shown that these basic features are necessary because of "packing", i.e., assembling optimized elements into a fixed space, and filling the space completely. For the flow between an area and one point, the best elemental shape is the regular hexagon. It is shown that the emergence of string-shaped links that connect two or more elements are necessary features, which are also required by packing. Strings cover some of the inner zones of the tree network, particularly the inner zones of large and complex trees. Dichotomous Y-shaped constructs dominate the tree structure, especially the peripheral zones of the tree canopy. The practical importance of the simplified design method is discussed. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Lorente, S; Wechsatol, W; Bejan, A
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