Background: Minimising internal pressure drop in pipes is crucial for energy efficiency of fluid flow applications. Numerous computational optimisation tools that are capable of modifying flow geometries to reduce the pressure drop have been developed. Among these is a comparably simple heuristic optimisation algorithm which mimics erosion and sedimentation processes based on the shear stress in the vicinity of the domain boundaries. Although this method succeeds in modifying flow geometries for reduced pressure drop, it allows the fluid domain to widen during the reshaping process. Therefore, a reported reduction of pressure drop is not only caused by an improvement of the flow path, but also by an increase in the domain width. However, pipes with a constant circular diameter are favoured in many applications because they can be easily manufactured.
Methods: Here we combine the heuristic optimisation approach with a new geometrical constraint that kept the average diameter constant. This way, a reduction of pressure drop caused solely by the modification of the flow path can be assessed. We determined the applicability of the modified algorithm for 2D channel and 3D pipe geometries, conducting numerical simulations using the Lattice Boltzmann method with Reynolds numbers ranging from 40 to 500.
Results: For all investigated cases, potentially optimal shapes could be derived at all tested Reynolds numbers. However, the shape originally derived at a simulated flow with Re = 40 yielded a smaller pressure drop even for flows at Re ≥ 100 than shapes derived specifically at these higher Reynolds numbers.
Conclusions: This observed trend should be kept in mind when employing this approach as a simple way to improve channel and pipe layouts.
- Numerical Simulation of Lightweight Components and Processes