Porous media model computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a valuable approach allowing an entire heat exchanger system, including the interactions with its associated installation ducts, to be studied at an affordable computational effort. Previous work of this kind has concentrated on developing the heat transfer and pressure loss characteristics of the porous medium model. Experimental validation has mainly been based on the measurements at the far field from the porous media exit. Detailed near field data are rare. In this paper, the fluid dynamics characteristics of a tubular heat exchanger concept developed for aero-engine intercooling by the authors are presented. Based on a rapid prototype manufactured design, the detailed flow field in the intercooler system is recorded by particle image velocimetry (PIV) and pressure measurements. First, the computational capability of the porous media to predict the flow distribution within the tubular heat transfer units was confirmed. Second, the measurements confirm that the flow topology within the associated ducts can be described well by porous media CFD modeling. More importantly, the aerodynamic characteristics of a number of critical intercooler design choices have been confirmed, namely, an attached flow in the high velocity regions of the in-flow, particularly in the critical region close to the intersection and the in-flow guide vane, a well-distributed flow in the two tube stacks, and an attached flow in the cross-over duct.

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