Thermal Dispersion Within a Porous Medium Near a Solid Wall

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the 13th International Heat Transfer Conference, IHTC-13


The regenerator is a key component to Stirling cycle machine efficiency. Typical regenerators are of sintered fine wires or layers of fine-wire screens. Such porous materials are contained within solid-wall casings. Thermal energy exchange between the regenerator and the casing is important to cycle performance for the matrix and casing would not have the same axial temperature profile in an actual machine. Exchange from one to the other may allow shunting of thermal energy, reducing cycle efficiency. In this paper, temperature profiles within the near-wall region of the matrix are measured and thermal energy transport, termed thermal dispersion, is inferred. The data show how the wall affects thermal transport. Transport normal to the mean flow direction is by conduction within the solid and fluid and by advective transport within the matrix. In the near-wall region, both may be interrupted from their normal in-core pattern. Solid conduction paths are broken and scales of advective transport are damped. An equation is presented which describes this change for a wire screen mesh. The near-wall layer typically acts as an insulating layer. This should be considered in design or analysis. Effective thermal conductivity within the core is uniform. In-core transverse thermal effective conductivity values are compared to direct and indirect measurements reported elsewhere and to 3D numerical simulation results, computed previously and reported elsewhere. The 3-D CFD model is composed of six cylinders in cross flow, staggered in arrangement to match the dimensions and porosity of the matrix used in the experiments. The commercial code FLUENT is used to obtain the flow and thermal fields. The thermal dispersion and effective thermal conductivities for the matrix are computed from the results.


Paper presented at 13th International Heat Transfer Conference, IHTC-13, Sydney, Australia, August 13 - 18, 2006.