Constructal tree-shaped flow structures
This paper is an introduction to a new trend in the conceptual design of energy systems: the generation of flow configuration based on the "constructal" principle that the global performance is maximized by balancing and arranging the various flow resistances (the irreversibilities) in a flow system that is free to morph. The paper focuses on distribution and collection, which are flows that connect one point (source, or sink) with an infinity of points (volume, area, curve). The flow configurations that emerge from this principle are tree-shaped, and the systems that employ them are "vascularized". The paper traces the most recent progress made on constructal vascularization. The direction is from large-scale applications toward microscales. The large-scale tree-shaped designs of electric power distribution systems and networks for natural gas and water are now invading small-scale designs such as fuel cells, heat exchangers and cooled packages of electronics. These flow configurations have several properties in common: freedom to morph, multiple scales, hierarchy, nonuniform (optimal) distribution of scales through the available volume, compactness and finite complexity. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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