The heat transfer performance of inhomogeneous parallel plate heat exchangers in transient operation is investigated using an established model. A performance parameter, denoted the Nusselt-scaling factor, is used as benchmark and calculated using a well-established single blow technique. A sample of 50 random stacks having equal average channel thicknesses with 20 channels each are used to provide a statistical base. The standard deviation of the stacks is varied as are the flow rate (Reynolds number) and the thermal conductivity of the solid heat exchanger material. It is found that the heat transfer performance of inhomogeneous stacks of parallel plates may be reduced significantly due to the maldistribution of the fluid flow compared to the ideal homogeneous case. The individual channels experience different flow velocities and this further induces an inter-channel thermal cross talk.
International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 2013, Vol 60