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Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216

Heat transfer and thermal performance analysis of a surface

with hollow rectangular fins
Ugur Akyol a, Kadir Bilen b,*

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Corlu Engineering, University of Trakya, 59860 Corlu/Tekirdag, Turkey
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Ataturk, 25240 Erzurum, Turkey

Received 14 April 2004; accepted 19 May 2005

Available online 5 August 2005


An experimental study was conducted to investigate the heat transfer and friction loss characteristics in a horizontal rectangular
channel having attachments of hollow rectangular profile fins over one of its heated surface. The Reynolds number based on the flow
averaged inlet velocity and the hydraulic diameter, ranged from 3000 to 32,000. The hollow rectangular profile fins in 10 cm height
and a · b = 2 cm · 4 cm dimensions with a thickness of 0.2 cm were mounted on a heating surface vertically. Reynolds number, fin
arrangement and fin pitch in the flow direction were the experimental parameters. Both in-line and staggered fin arrangements were
studied for one-fixed spanwise (Sx/a = 3) and four different streamwise (Sy/b = 1.5, 1.875, 2.5 and 3.75) distances. Correlation equa-
tions for Nu, f and thermal performances were determined for fin configurations and the straight channel case without fins.
 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Finned surfaces; Heat transfer enhancement; Thermal performance; Hollow rectangular fins; Forced convection heat transfer

1. Introduction A thermal performance analysis is also worthwhile

for the evaluation of the net energy gain. One of the
It is well known that a straight fin with a concave par- ways to evaluate the heat transfer performance is the
abolic profile provides maximum heat dissipation for a comparison of the heat transfer coefficients at a constant
given profile area [1]. Since the concave parabolic shape pumping power [4–6].
is difficult and costly to manufacture, the rectangular Many studies have been done for different types of fin
profile is preferred even though it does not utilise the arrays, for example the one reported in [7], but still there
material most efficiently [2]. For example, in a study per- is lack of knowledge of the forced convection heat trans-
formed by Tahat et al. [3], pin fins were employed on the fer from a surface with vertical hollow rectangular pro-
heating surface in a rectangular channel; and Bilen et al. file fins. The array employed in the present study
[4] investigated the heat transfer and friction loss charac- consists of vertically mounted hollow rectangular profile
teristics of a surface with cylindrical fins arranged both fins on a surface. The experiments were performed for
in-line and staggered in a channel having rectangular in-line and staggered fin arrangements. Heat transfer
cross-section. The maximum amount of the heat trans- experiments without fins were also conducted, for effi-
fer occurred at Sy/D = 2.94. ciency comparison. Furthermore, friction loss was deter-
mined by measuring pressure drop along the test section.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +90 442 231 4864; fax: +90 442 236
In calculations, two different areas, which were called
0957. the total surface area and the projected area, were em-
E-mail address: (K. Bilen). ployed for the average Nusselt number.

1359-4311/$ - see front matter  2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
210 U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216


A heat transfer area (m2) m kinematic viscosity of air (m2 s1)

a, b fin length in spanwise and streamwise direc- q air density (kg/m3)
tion, respectively
Dh hydraulic diameter of the channel (m) Subscripts
f friction factor a finned
h mean heat transfer coefficient (W m2 K1) axi axial
H fin and channel height (m) bac back
k thermal conductivity of air (W m1 K1) con convection
L test surface length (m) f film
N number of fin in inlet, in-line
Nu Nusselt number for finned surface loss losses
Nus Nusselt number for smooth channel net net
Q_ heat transfer rate (W) out out
Re Reynolds number pro projected
S distance between the adjacent fins (m) rad radiation
T steady state temperature (K) s mean surface, smooth
V mean inlet velocity (m s1) stag staggered
W channel or test plate width (m) tot total
vol volt
Greek symbols x, y spanwise and streamwise directions, respec-
DP static pressure difference (N m2) tively
g performance efficiency

2. Experimental rig amount of the heat given to the test section was con-
trolled by a variac and a voltage regulator. To reduce
An experimental set up was installed to study the heat the contact resistance to heat flow, a sink compound
transfer performance and friction factor of hollow rect- of high thermal conductivity was applied both between
angular profile fins (Fig. 1). Air was the working fluid. the heater and the test surface and between the test sur-
The test facility was consisted of a wooden channel set face and the fins. The backsides of the heater and of the
on the suction side of a fan. The cross-section of the other walls were insulated with glasswool, in order to
channel was rectangular in each section; 10 cm in height minimize the heat losses.
and 18 cm in width with a wall thickness of 1.8 cm, total Seven copper–constantan thermocouples were in-
length of the channel was 200 cm. The test section was stalled along the test section centerline, to measure the
mounted at the bottom surface. The aluminum hollow steady state temperature of the base surface of the fin
rectangular profile fins were placed on an aluminum array. The average of these readings was taken as aver-
plate in dimensions of 30 cm length, 18 cm width and age temperature of the test surface at steady state. Ana-
0.2 cm thickness. A plate heater with a 1500 W maxi- log signals from the experimental system were fed to the
mum power, which was approximately the same dimen- data acquisition card (HG 818 advantech), then these
sions as the aluminum plate, heated the lower horizontal signals were amplified and converted to digital signals
wall of the test section to supply a constant heat. The and both saved and displayed on the computer screen
as real temperature values. The temperatures were used
the average of ten values collected for a single thermo-
Inclined couple location in two-minute interval at steady state
Anemometer Flow
Fan Mixer Table 1
Distance between fins and the number of rectangular profile fins for
Fin a · b = 2 · 4 cm2 and Sx/a = 3
Sy/b 1.5 1.875 2.5 3.75
Insulation Ny 5 4 3 2
Voltage Test Nx 3 3 3 3
Heater Computer
regulator surface
Ntot (in-line) 15 12 9 6
Ntot (staggered) 13 10 8 5
Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of experimental apparatus.
U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216 211

a b

Fig. 2. The arrangements of fins on plate: (a) in-line array, (b) staggered array.

conditions. The inlet temperature of the air stream was surface to its surroundings, and Q_ axi is the axial conduc-
taken as the average readings of two copper–constantan tion heat loss through the channel wall, which is
thermocouples located after the flow straightener. Simi- reported that this loss is less than 3.2% of the total
larly the outlet temperature of the air stream was taken power input [8], and it was assumed to be nominally
as the average reading of four copper–constantan ther- 3% for the present case due to the similarity of the sys-
mocouples located in the downstream region of the insu- tems. The conduction heat loss Q_ bac from the down wall
lated channel. Moreover, one thermocouple was used of the test section to the environment was calculated by
for the outer surface temperature of the heating section applying the natural convection correlation between
and one for the ambient temperature. The copper–con- wall and atmosphere using the related correlation [9].
stantan thermocouples were calibrated in a thermostat The radiative loss was estimated from a simplified model
within ±0.1 C deviation before being used in the experi- where the heated surface was treated as a plate surface
ments. The average velocity in the channel was deter- surrounded by a large environment. The results sug-
mined by averaging the 11 velocities in perpendicular gested that the radiative losses with an emissivity value
direction and 19 in spanwise direction to flow by an ane- of 0.05 for polished aluminum were less than 1% of
mometer. The pressure drop within the test section of Q_ vol . The electric energy supplied to the test surface is
the channel was measured by using two static pressure not exactly equal to the convective energy loss from this
tapings installed on the roof of the test section, which surface. It becomes equal after subtracting the losses,
were connected to an inclined manometer. In the experi-
Q_ net ¼ Q_ con ð3Þ
ments, the duration to reach steady state conditions was
about 1–2 h, depending upon experimental conditions. The steady state rate of the convection heat transfer
The hollow rectangular profile fins with a cross-section from the test surface with fins can be calculated by
of 2 cm (in the spanwise direction) by 4 cm (in the   
streamwise direction) and 10 cm height, the same height _Qcon ¼ hAtot T s  T out þ T in ð4Þ
as that of the channel, were attached on the upper sur-
face of the base plate. The fin number and the distance where Tout is the outlet temperature of air flow that was
between the fins are given in Table 1, and the arrange- determined by averaging the temperatures measured at
ment of the fins on the test section is illustrated in Fig. 2. four locations at the exit section of the test surface, Tin
is the inlet temperature of air that was determined by
averaging the temperatures at two locations at the en-
3. Calculation of the heat transfer rate and the friction trance of the test section, Ts is the average temperature
factor of seven locations in the centerline of the surface and
Atot is the total surface area. Either the projected or
The net heat transfer rate Q_ net is the heat given to the the total surface can be taken as the surface area in
flow, by convection at the steady state conditions and the calculations. The total surface area, Atot, and the
can be calculated based on the following energy balance projected area, Apro, can be expressed on the following
equation: equations, respectively:
Q_ net ¼ Q_ vol  Q_ loss ð1Þ Atot ¼ Apro þ 2ða þ bÞHN tot  ðabÞN tot ð5Þ
Q_ loss ¼ Q_ bac þ Q_ rad þ Q_ axi ð2Þ Apro ¼ WL ð6Þ
where Q_ vol is the total power input to the test section, where a and b are the length of the fins in spanwise and
Q_ bac is the conduction heat loss from the backside to streamwise directions, H is the height of the fins, Ntot is
the environment, Q_ rad is radiative heat loss from the test the number of fins, W is the width of the base plate and
212 U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216

L is the length of the base plate, respectively. The aver- 4. Experimental results and discussion
age convective heat transfer coefficient based on the
total heat transfer surface area (surface + fins) can be 4.1. Validation of data
calculated by combining Eqs. (3) and (4),
In the literature, there have been data for different fin
Q_ net
h¼   ð7Þ and channel configurations and dimensions, therefore,
Atot T s  T out2þT in to make a comparison, it is chosen the data for channel
Also, the average convective heat transfer coefficient without fins. The experimental results for smooth chan-
based on the projected area can be evaluated from, nel are compared with the correlation for turbulent flow,
reported in the literature [9] in Fig. 4. The comparison
Q_ net validates the experimental results, although the present
hpro ¼   ð8Þ
Apro T s  ðT out2þT in Þ results have some discrepancy from the correlation given
in literature. The present results are obtained for entry
The average Nusselt number definitions based on the
region, while the correlation in literature is for fully
total surface and the projected area are as the following:
developed flow. Therefore it is expected that the Nusselt
hDh number for entry region is of a little higher than those
Nu ¼ ð9Þ
k for fully developed region due to the thinner thermal
hpro Dh boundary layer. Finally, the validation of the experi-
Nupro ¼ ð10Þ
k ments with respect to the correlation given in literature
The Reynolds number based on the averaged flow is reasonable.
inlet velocity and the channel hydraulic diameter is given
by 4.2. Experimental results
Re ¼ ð11Þ The experiments were performed in a channel with
m hollow rectangular profile fins that attached either in-
The friction factor was determined from the mea- line or staggered to the plate, as well as in a channel
sured values of pressure drop, DP; across the test length without fins. The rectangular profile fins were mounted
L = 30 cm using the equation, vertically on the test surface to give Sy/b values of 1.5,
1.875, 2.5 and 3.75 in the streamwise direction, while
f ¼  2 ð12Þ keeping Sx/a = 3 constant in the spanwise direction.
q V2 Reynolds number was ranging from 3000 to 32,000
based on the channel hydraulic diameter and the aver-
In Eqs. (11) and (12) V is the averaged velocity in the en- age velocity at the entrance of the test section. From
trance of the test section and DP measured by using the the experimental results, variation of Nusselt numbers
inclined manometer is the static pressure difference and pressure losses with Reynolds number and different
along the top wall of the test section, and Dh is the fin distances were presented graphically for both in-line
hydraulic diameter of the channel. The values of and staggered fin arrangements in this section.
the thermophysical properties of air were evaluated at The results correlated with Nusselt number and fric-
the averaged fluid temperature, Tf = (Tin + Tout)/2. tion factor for smooth channel are as follows,
The maximum air velocity was changed in a range respectively:
from 0.5 m/s to 4 m/s for the smooth channel. The
experiments were conducted at a nominal power of Nus ¼ 0.419 Re0s .565 ð13Þ
50 ± 0.6 W (Q_ vol ). By using the estimation method of f ¼ 0.002 Re0.4
s s ð14Þ
Moffat [10], the maximum uncertainties of the investi-
gated non-dimensional parameters are found to be as The mean deviations of the predicted Nusselt number
follows: Re, 8.3%; Nu, 6.1%; f, 8.7% for the channels and friction factor are 3.2% and 11.7%, respectively.
with fins and Nus, 12.3%; fs, 16.4% for the channel with- Nusselt number for the surface with fins calculated on
out fins. The maximum uncertainties of Nu, and f are of the basis of projected area represents the effect of the
acceptable values for the channel with fins. The value of variation in the surface area, as well as that of distur-
fs, is only a little high for the channel without fins, while bances in the flow due to the fins on the heat transfer
Nus, is also of acceptable value. When the average value enhancement. However, Nusselt number based on the
of fs is taken for all Reynolds numbers, it is found to be total surface area represents only the effect of distur-
11.5%. The individual contribution to these uncertain- bances in the flow. Fig. 3 indicates the variation of the
ties is pressure drop (DP), 2.7%; (DP)s, 5.2%, mean average Nusselt number based on the total surface area
stream temperature (T), 0.2 C hydraulic diameter of with Reynolds number for various pitch values in
channel (Dh), 1.2%. streamwise direction for both in-line (Fig. 3a) and stag-
U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216 213

in-line staggered
160 Sy/b 160 Sy/b
1.5 1.5
1.875 1.875
120 120
2.5 2.5

3.75 3.75
80 80

40 40

0 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
a Re×10-3 b Re×10-3

Fig. 3. Variation of Nusselt number based on the total surface area with Reynolds number: (a) for the in-line array, (b) for the staggered array, Sx/
a = 3.

gered arrays (Fig. 3b). The average Nusselt number in- Fig. 4a and b illustrate also the smooth channel case for
creases with fin pitch value in streamwise direction and a comparison.
has a maximum value at Sy/b ffi 3.75 that corresponds The correlations for the Nusselt number and the fric-
to the largest pitch value for both arrangements. On tion factor are as the follows:
the other hand, the variation of the average Nusselt For the in-line array based on the total surface area,
number with Sy/b is quite small for the staggered fin 0.31
Nu ¼ 1.116Re0.45 ðS y =bÞ ð15Þ
array (Fig. 3b). This situation can be explained by the
occurrence of insufficient flow mixing between the fins Based on the projected area,
for the in-line array. For the staggered arrangement,
Nu ¼ 6.32Re0.44 ðS =bÞ0.32
pro y ð16Þ
Nusselt number is higher for all fin pitch values in com-
parison to the in-line one. This enhancement may be Friction factor for the in-line array,
originated from the increasing intensity of the turbu- 0.45
f ¼ 0.703Re0.09 ðS y =bÞ ð17Þ
lence and better mixing.
Change of Nusselt number based on the projected For the staggered array based on the total surface
area, with respect to the Reynolds number is given in area,
Fig. 4a and b. The averaged Nusselt number decreases 0.05
Nu ¼ 1.717Re0.44 ðS y =bÞ ð18Þ
with increasing fin pitch values in streamwise direction
and has a maximum value at Sy/b ffi 1.5. The sequence Based on the projected area,
of fin pitch values for Nusselt number based on the pro- 0.58
Nu ¼ 8.791Re0.43 ðS =bÞ
pro y ð19Þ
jected area is reversed according to that based on the
total surface area. Since the Nusselt number based on Friction factor for staggered array,
the total surface area is independent of the changes in
f ¼ 3.782Re0.04 ðS y =bÞ1.53 ð20Þ
the heat transfer surface area, it may increase due to
only the increasing intensity of the turbulence. However, The variation of the friction factors, with respect to
the enhancement in Nusselt number based on the pro- the fin spacing and Reynolds number, calculated from
jected area includes the increase of the turbulence as well the measured pressure drop values, is presented in
as that of the surface area related to the fin number. The Fig. 5a and b, for in-line and staggered arrangements.

in-line Sy/b stag.Sy/b

600 1.5 600 1.5
1.875 1.875
2.5 2.5
450 450 3.75


Smooth Smooth
300 Nusselt [9] 300 Nusselt [9]

0.8 0.055 0.8 0.055

Nu=0.036Re (Dh/L) Nu=0.036Re (Dh/L)
150 Eq. (13) 150 Eq. (13)

0 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
-3 -3
a Re×10 b Re×10

Fig. 4. Variation of Nusselt number based on the projected surface area with Reynolds number, and comparison of data with correlation for smooth
channel: (a) for the in-line array, (b) for the staggered array, Sx/a = 3.
214 U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216

10 10 staggered
in-line Sy/b
1 1 1.5
0.1 0.1 2.5

0.01 Smooth
0.01 Smooth
Eq. (14)
Eq. (14)
0.001 0.001

1e-4 1e-4
4 10 16 22 28 4 10 16 22 28
-3 -3
a Rex10 b Rex10

Fig. 5. Variation of friction factor with Reynolds number and the various distances between fins: (a) for the in-line array, (b) for the staggered array,
Sx/a = 3.

Since the pressure drop increases with decreasing of the where ha and hs are the convective heat transfer coeffi-
fin spacing, the corresponding value of the friction fac- cients with and without fins, respectively, and index P
tor increases. It is considered that this behavior can be denotes pumping power.
originated from increasing of the blockage effect of fins Using Eqs. (14), (17), (20), and (22) the Reynolds
with fin number. Pressure drop values or the friction fac- number for the smooth surface (Res) can be written as
tors for the in-line array were always less than those for a function of the Reynolds number for in-line and stag-
the staggered one. gered arrays (Rea).
For the in-line array
4.3. Performance criteria 0.132
Res ¼ 5.675Rea0.885 ðS y =bÞ ð24Þ
For a constant pumping power, it is useful to deter- For the staggered array
mine the effectiveness of heat transfer enhancement of 0.45
Re ¼ 9.308Re0.894 ðS =bÞ
s y ð25Þ
a heat transfer promoter in comparison with smooth a

surface such that [11] Using Eqs. (13), (15), and (24) the heat transfer
enhancement efficiency based on the total surface area
V_ s DP s ¼ V_ a DP a ð21Þ
for the in-line array can be written as
where V_ s and V_ a are the volumetric flow rates over the 0.385
plate, and DPa and DPs are the pressure drops with g ¼ ðh =h Þ ¼ 0.995Re0.05 ðS =bÞ
in a s P ð26Þ
a y

and without fins, respectively. Using the Darcy equation In the same way, the following expression based on
(Eq. (12)) and Reynolds number for each configuration, the total surface area is obtained for the staggered array
Eq. (21) may be written as from Eqs. (13), (18) and (25):
fs Re3s ¼ fa Re3a 0.304
ð22Þ gstag ¼ ðha =hs ÞP ¼ 1.162Rea0.065 ðS y =bÞ ð27Þ
The heat transfer enhancement efficiency for a con- Similarly, the heat transfer enhancement efficiency
stant pumping power may be expressed as follows based on the projected area can be determined for both
[7,11,12]: in-line and staggered fin arrays. For the in-line array, the
g ¼ ðha =hs ÞP ð23Þ expression based on the projected area,

1.25 1.25

1.00 1.00

0.75 in-line 0.75 staggered


Sy/b Sy/b
0.50 1.5 0.50 1.5
1.875 1.875
0.25 2.5 0.25 2.5
3.75 3.75
0.00 0.00
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
a Rex10 b Rex10 -3

Fig. 6. Variation of g with Reynolds number based on the total area: (a) for the in-line array, (b) for the staggered array, Sx/a = 3.
U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216 215

3.5 3.5

3.0 3.0

2.5 2.5

2.0 in-line 2.0 staggered

η Sy/b Sy/b

1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5

1.875 1.875
1.0 2.5 1.0 2.5
3.75 3.75
0.5 0.5
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
a Re×10-3 b Re×10

Fig. 7. Variation of g with Reynolds number based on the projected area: (a) for the in-line array, (b) for the staggered array, Sx/a = 3.

gin ¼ ðha =hs ÞP ¼ 5.657Rea0.06 ðS y =bÞ ð28Þ • A slightly better heat transfer was achieved for the
staggered array than for the in-line arrangement on
and for the staggered array based on the projected the basis of total surface area due to the increase of
area, the turbulence and better mixing of the flow. How-
gstag ¼ ðha =hs ÞP ¼ 5.95Re0.075 ðS =bÞ0.326 ð29Þ ever for staggered arrangement, increase in Reynolds
a y
number increased the pressure drop and correspond-
can be written. Fig. 6a and b illustrate the change of ing friction factor, because the staggered arrangement
heat transfer performance based on the total surface has much more blockage effect in fluid flow.
area with respect to the Reynolds number for various • For the staggered array, the dependence of the varia-
spaces in streamwise direction between fins, for in-line tion of Nu number with fin spacing was smaller than
and staggered fin arrays. As seen from Fig. 6a, g based the in-line arrangement on the basis of total surface
on the total area is greater than 1 (g P 1) only for in-line area, because more space between fins was needed
arrangement of Sy/b = 3.75. Heat transfer efficiency is to provide a better mixing of the flow for in-line
less for lower fin spacing values. The performance coef- arrangement.
ficient decreases with increasing Reynolds number for • For the in-line array, the dependence of the variation
all fin spaces. The variation of heat transfer performance of f with fin spacing was smaller than the staggered
based on the projected area with increasing Reynolds arrangement, due to the decrease of the blockage
number and at various spaces in streamwise direction effect of fins.
between fins, for in-line and staggered fin arrays are also • In the calculation of performance efficiency based on
presented in Fig. 7. It is seen that, g is greater than 1 the total surface area, g was greater than unity only at
(g P 1) for both fin arrangements and all Reynolds Sy/b = 3.75 for the in-line array, and the values of g
number values. were less than 1 for the remaining ratios and both
• For both in-line and staggered arrangements based
5. Conclusion on the projected area, the performance efficiency g
was greater than 1 for all fin spacings and Reynolds
An experimental investigation of heat transfer numbers. It is recommended to use these types of
enhancement has been studied for four streamwise dis- fin arrangements based on the projected area.
tances of fins and two fin arrangements (in-line and stag-
gered) and various Reynolds numbers. According to the In order to gain more information about the heat
experimental data obtained for the surface equipped transfer mechanism for this type of the finned system,
with hollow rectangular profile fins, the conclusions it is suggested that heat transfer enhancement with re-
can be summarized as follows: spect to various cross-sections of the fin, different fin dis-
tances in spanwise directions, and the gap effect between
• Both in-line and staggered fin arrangements signifi- the fin top and the upper surface of the channel should
cantly enhanced the heat transfer in comparison to be studied in future.
the surface without fins.
• Nu number increased with increasing Re number
both on the basis of the total surface area and the Acknowledgements
projected area for in-line and staggered arrange-
ments, since increasing Reynolds number decreases This work was funded by the Ataturk University
the boundary layer over the surface. Research Foundation under 1997/43.
216 U. Akyol, K. Bilen / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 209–216

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