Performance characteristics correlation for round tube and plate finned heat exchangers

M. Abu Madi, R. A. Johns, M. R. Heikal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of correlation equations describing the performance characteristics of round tube and plate fin have been published in the open literature. However, many of these correlations are restricted to flat finned heat exchangers and a limited number of geometrical configurations. In this study, 28 heat exchanger samples were tested in an open circuit thermal wind tunnel over a velocity range of 1 to 20 m/s for a number of geometries. The geometrical variations include the number of tube rows, fin thickness and the spacing between fins, rows and tubes. Both flat and corrugated fins were tested and the results were correlated in terms of j and f factors as a function of Reynolds number and the geometrical parameters of the heat exchangers. An important feature of this correlation is the novel way in which the geometric parameters are expressed in the correlation. Ratios of these parameters are derived from consideration of the physics of the flow and heat transfer in the heat exchangers. This results in a more accurate and physically meaningful correlation which can be applied to a broader range of geometries. The correlation was validated against test data in the literature for round tube and plate fin with good agreement. It was found that the fin type affects the heat transfer and friction factor, and that the number of tube rows has a negligible effect on the friction factor. The number of tube rows effect was found to be influenced by the fin and tube geometries as well as the Reynolds number.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-517
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Refrigeration
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • Fin
  • Refrigerant
  • Tube


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