Vascular design for thermal management of heated structures
Vascular structures are contemplated for cooling the skins and leading surfaces of future high speed aircraft. This paper evaluates the proposal to cool with a flow architecture shaped as trees (dendritic) a parallelepipedic body that is heated uniformly. The coolant enters the body through one face and exits through the opposite face. The vasculature connects the two faces, and consists of trees that alternate with upside down trees. The fields for fluid flow and heat transfer are determined numerically in three dimensions. The effect of local pressure losses at bends, junctions and entrances is documented. Designs with tree-shaped architectures having up to four levels of bifurcation are evaluated for fluid flow and heat transfer performance, and are compared with the performance of a design with a single sheet of fluid sweeping the upper surface of the body. The fluid flow conductance of the tree designs increases when the number of bifurcation levels increases. The thermal performance of tree designs can be improved by endowing the tree design with more freedom such that the bifurcations generate asymmetric daughter channels. The tree designs outperform the fluid sheet design dramatically: the global thermal resistance of the tree designs is roughly one tenth of the global thermal resistance of the fluid sheet design.