Flow Modeling for Home Appliances

By Dr. Kevin Linfield, P.E.

Air flow and temperature distribution are critical to the proper functioning of household appliances. The transfer of heat and moisture comes into play in such common items as toasters, ovens, ranges, refrigerators, freezers, water purification units, and clothes dryers. Over the years, ASC has worked with several of the major U.S. appliance manufacturers to study heat and flow patterns in their products. While trial-and-error modifications may eventually result in design solutions, the combination of CFD and laboratory testing can improve thermal efficiency, optimize mechanical parameters, and investigate new designs faster.

Temperature Uniformity in Ovens

One fun project featured a combination of CFD flow modeling and laboratory testing of a home oven. Sugar cookies were used as sensors, and after baking in the oven the cookies were evaluated for color uniformity. We won't mention if the cookies were eaten after testing!

sugar cookies temperature uniformity oven test

Another appliance example involved the CFD model featuring venting of hot gases from electric and gas ovens. For this study, the predicted temperature profiles were compared between the different models. Buoyancy of the hot gases through small passages plays an important role in material temperature.

CFD model venting hot gases

CFD Simulation of a Clothes Dryer

To help make clothes drying more efficient, CFD modeling of a home dryer was undertaken, examining the rotating drum along with the inlet ductwork, exhaust ductwork, and fan. One of the strengths of flow simulation is the ability to examine the aggregate effect of many components used in combination.

clothes dryer

Visualization of the computed flow velocities and directions is possible for any plane within the model. Examination of the flow patterns revealed specific areas where a design modification could increase the effectiveness of the dryer. Several such modifications were examined through computational simulations to arrive at those that would produce the best results while meeting the manufacturer's constraints.

CFD model fo clothes dryer

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