Modeling a fin-and-tube heat exchanger as porous media based on volume averaging theory (VAT), specific geometry can be accounted for in such a way that the details of the original structure can be replaced by their averaged counterparts, and the VAT based governing equations can be solved for a wide range of heat exchanger designs. To complete the VAT based model, proper closure is needed, which is related to a local friction factor and a heat transfer coefficient of a representative elementary volume. The present paper describes an effort to model a fin-and-tube heat exchanger based on VAT and obtain closure for the model. Experiment data and correlations for the air side characteristics of fin-and-tube heat exchangers from the published literature were collected and rescaled using the “porous media” length scale suggested by VAT. The results were surprisingly good, collapsing all the data onto a single curve for friction factor and Nusselt number, respectively. It was shown that using the porous media length scale is very beneficial in collapsing complex data yielding simple heat transfer and friction factor correlations and that by proper scaling, closure is a function of the porous media, which further generalizes macroscale porous media equations. The current work is a step closer to our final goal, which is to develop a universal fast running computational tool for multiple-parameter optimization of heat exchangers.

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