The efficiency of conventional heat exchangers is restricted by many factors, such as effectiveness of convective heat transfer and the cost of their operation. The current research deals with these issues by developing a novel method for building a lower-cost yet more efficient heat sink. This method involves using a specially designed curved microchannel to utilise the enhanced fluid mixing characteristics of Dean vortices, and thus transferring heat efficiently.

Numerical models have been employed to investigate the heat transfer enhancement of curved channels over straight equivalents, with the aim of optimising the heat exchanger design based on the parameters of maximising heat transfer whilst minimising pressure drop and unit cost. These studies examined the variation of Nusselt Number over the length of the channel, for a range of different curvatures (and hence Dean numbers). The results showed significantly higher heat transfer occurring in curved channels, especially in areas where the generated Dean vortices are strongest, with the variation in Nusselt Number forming the shape of an ‘arc’. In this way, a relationship between the Dean Number and the Nusselt Number is characterised and discussed, leading to suggestions regarding optimal microfluidic heat transfer design.

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