It is well-known from the literature that surface roughness affects significantly friction and heat transfer. This is even more evident for additive manufactured (AM) components, which are taking an increasingly important role in the gas turbine field. However, the exploitation of numerical approaches to improve their design is hindered by the lack of dedicated correlations and CFD model developed for such high roughness conditions.

Usually the additive manufactured components are simulated considering the surfaces as smooth or applying an equivalent sand-grain roughness (ks) that results in a velocity shift in the boundary layer. However, determining a priori the most appropriate value of ks is challenging, as dozens of correlations are available, returning scattered and uncertain results.

The aim of this work is to benchmark some existing modelling strategies (among which the equivalent sand grain roughness) and test a numerical approach capable of narrowing the existing gap between simulated and tested thermal performance of additive manufactured devices. The technology enabler is represented by higher-fidelity CFD simulations accounting for the impact of real surface roughness on pressure drop and heat transfer.

At this purpose, an existing literature model for rough walls has been implemented in ANSYS Fluent and tested on a variety of AM mini-channels so as to determine the best-fitting values of ks and corrected wetted surface ratio Scorr that match the experimental data in terms of friction factor and Nusselt number. Knowing also the measured roughness descriptors of each component, it has been possible to derive valuable guidelines for an effective exploitation of CFD on additive manufactured components, thus allowing a more accurate estimation of the thermal performance in additive manufactured components.

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