Gradient calculations of non–orthogonal meshes in the finite volume method
Van der Westhuizen, Nicolé
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The handling of gradient calculations on non-orthogonal meshes in the Finite Volume Method (FVM) is important in the modelling of complex geometries, since different implementation methods have an influence on the accuracy and the stability of the solution. The application in the current study is the numerical solution of heat conduction in a complex geometry. It finds relevance in many engineering applications such as the Micro-Channel Heat Exchanger (MCHE) that acts as a recuperator in a High Temperature Reactor (HTR) power generation cycle. A program based on the FVM was developed in Excel for the solution of the diffusion equation on a non-orthogonal mesh. A test case of heat conduction in a rectangular block, meshed with a tetrahedral mesh, was solved with the Excel code. The same test case was solved with OpenFOAM. The results of the two codes were compared. Small differences were found and their origins were traced to slightly different implementation methods. Knowledge of the differences in implementation between the two codes resulted in a better understanding of the aspects that influenced accuracy and stability. Computations on meshes with the presence of mesh skewness and non-orthogonal mesh lines at boundaries were performed and an accompanying decrease in accuracy was observed. The results showed that the standard FVM as implemented in the Excel code and in OpenFOAM will need advanced methods to compensate for mesh skewness and non-orthogonality found at boundaries. During the study, a deeper knowledge and understanding was gained of the challenge of obtaining accurate solutions of heat conduction on non-orthogonal meshes. This knowledge may lead to the overall improvement of the simulation of heat transfer models in general and for the MCHE specifically.
- Engineering