The current study is focused on the flow through offset, wall confined vertical inserts in a channel. The columns are intended to act as the thermal storage media, which continuously exchange heat with the channel fluid to regulate it thermally. These columns could, for example, be filled with a phase change material (PCM) for passive thermal regulation, or have hot or cold fluid pumped through them for active thermal regulation. The current study has two parts: (1) the flow characterization without heat transfer, and (2) flow characterization during thermal exchange with a PCM used for regulation of bulk fluid temperature. The work presented here is focused only on the first part of the study.

The experiments were conducted in a narrow channel, with water as the working fluid. Two geometries of the vertical columns (circular and square) and two offset lengths were considered. For each configuration, experiments were conducted at Reynolds numbers of 20, 50 and 90 (based of the column’s characteristic length). Particle image velocimetry was used to measure the two-dimensional velocity field in a horizontal plane at multiple regions of interest along the length of the channel to characterize the flow passing over columns. The results indicate vortex shedding at the two higher Reynolds numbers. The generation, magnitude and decay rate of turbulent energy is shown to have an offset dependency at Re = 90, but a column shape dependency at Re = 50. The mean flow has a shape dependency due to the difference in separation point over the square and circular columns.

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