Correlations to calculate the local and average heat transfer coefficients for single-phase laminar flow in horizontal circular tubes with a constant heat flux boundary condition are usually restricted to fully developed flow, high Prandtl numbers or constant fluid properties. What further complicates the heat transfer characteristics of developing flow, is the local transition from laminar to turbulent flow along the tube length, above the critical Reynolds number. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of free convection on the development of the local heat transfer characteristics in smooth horizontal circular tubes heated with a constant heat flux. An experimental set-up was designed, built, and results were validated against literature. Two smooth circular test sections with inner diameters of 4 mm and 11.5 mm were used, and the maximum length-to-diameter ratios were 1373 and 872, respectively. Heat transfer measurements were taken at Reynolds numbers between 500 and 10,000 at different heat fluxes. A total of 1046 mass flow rate measurements and 89,459 temperature measurements were taken. Water was used as the test fluid and the Prandtl number ranged between 3 and 7. Three different regions were identified for developing laminar flow and were qualitatively and quantitatively defined. Correlations were developed to determine the thermal entrance lengths, as well as local and average Nusselt numbers for developing and fully developed laminar flow in mixed convection conditions with a constant heat flux boundary condition. In the transitional flow regime, the laminar-turbulent transition along the tube length was divided into four regions, and it was found that the flow transitioned faster with increasing free convection effects and Reynolds number.
This work was produced as part of a PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Pretoria by the second author under the supervision of the first author. (http://hdl.handle.net/2263/44245)
Limited experimental work has been done specifically focussing on how the heat transfer characteristics of developing flow in the transitional flow regime changes along the tube length, and how it compares with fully ...