Design and development of polymer composite heat exchanger tubes using an integrated thermal-hydraulic and material design framework

Kabeer Raza, Syed Sohail Akhtar*, Abba A. Abubakar, Ahmed Mohammed Alqahtani, Syed M. Zubair, Abul Fazal M. Arif

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the current study, thermal-hydraulic design of the heat exchanger and composite material design are integrated to develop polymer composite tube materials for heat exchanger applications. For preliminary analysis, the scheme utilizes basic thermal resistance equations, Kern and Bell-Delaware methods for the design of baffled shell and tube heat exchangers, and differential effective medium theory for the design of composite materials. The preliminary analysis clarifies that the thermal conductivity of tubes is a performance-limiting parameter in the case of liquid-liquid applications. The heat exchanger's design imposes that the tubes' thermal conductivity must be enhanced to ≥8.5 W/m.K for achieving heat transfer comparable to those of metal counterparts. To attain the threshold thermal conductivity, the design of polymer composites employing differential effective medium theory requires that high volume fractions (> 0.3) of high effective aspect ratio (> 10 or 0.1) thermally conductive fillers be incorporated in a polymer matrix. Finally, the samples are fabricated of polypropylene matrix and expandable graphite filler with variable volume fractions (0.1–0.4). The highest thermal conductivity of 8.3 W/m.K was achieved in a 40 vol% sample. The comparison of measured and computed thermal conductivity values shows an acceptable agreement supported by electron microscopy and thermal images.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107054
JournalInternational Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Design
  • Heat exchanger
  • Performance
  • Polymer composites
  • Thermal conductivity
  • Thermal-hydraulic
  • Tubes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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