Buoyancy driven flow in a hot water tank due to standby heat loss

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2012

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Results of experimental and numerical investigations of thermal behavior in a vertical cylindrical hot water tank due to standby heat loss of the tank are presented. The effect of standby heat loss on temperature distribution in the tank is investigated experimentally on a slim 150l tank with a height to diameter ratio of 5. A tank with uniform temperatures and with thermal stratification is studied. A detailed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the tank is developed to calculate the natural convection flow in the tank. The distribution of the heat loss coefficient for the different parts of the tank is measured by experiments and used as input to the CFD model. Water temperatures at different levels of the tank are measured and compared to CFD calculated temperatures. The investigations focus on validation of the CFD model and on understanding of the CFD calculations.The results show that the CFD model predicts satisfactorily water temperatures at different levels of the tank during cooling by standby heat loss. It is elucidated how the downward buoyancy driven flow along the tank wall is established by the heat loss from the tank sides and how the natural convection flow is influenced by water temperatures in the tank. When the temperature gradient in the tank is smaller than 2K/m, there is a downward fluid velocity of 0.003–0.015m/s. With the presence of thermal stratification the buoyancy driven flow is significantly reduced. The dependence of the velocity magnitude of the downward flow on temperature gradient is not influenced by the tank volume and is only slightly influenced by the tank height to tank diameter ratio. Based on results of the CFD calculations, an equation is determined to calculate the magnitude of the buoyancy driven flow along the tank wall for a given temperature gradient in the tank.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSolar Energy
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)3438-3449
StatePublished - 2012
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 12


  • Hot water tank, Thermal stratification, Heat loss, Buoyancy driven flow, Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
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