Complex engineering solutions are, well, ‘complex’. That accurately describes the challenge of recent job for a global metal manufacturing firm. In this job Sigma was to reverse engineer and model a heat exchanger that is used in a foundry for creating alloy steel bars. In this application, hot metal flows in from one side, at 2800 °F, and is cooled by water that enters in from the other side. When the metal exits, it will be solidified to 1700 °F. The water and metal never touch, and because of the high heat, the heat exchanger itself had some very complex geometry and materials. Sigma was tasked with this project because of their engineering and design experience. The client’s heat exchanger had very poor engineering documentation (no drawings or specifications), and was largely untouched for many years. As a result, the orientation of a few components was unknown, and it became critical to understand which way the heat exchanger should be assembled.
A SolidWorks Simulation CFD was run to determine the fluid flow profile. By running the simulation with different configurations of the heat exchanger, we could see which configuration provided better flow and therefore better system temperature control. We created areas where the flow rate could be measured, and used that data to determine the proper orientation of the components. Basically, the larger the flow rate near the hottest point in the assembly the better, because that will lead to greater convection, and essentially better heat removal. Problem solved!