The flow in plate-fin-and-tube heat exchangers is featured by interesting dynamics of vortical structures, which, due to close proximity of bounding walls that suppress instabilities, differs significantly from the better-known patterns around long cylinders. Typically, several distinct vortex systems can be identified both in front and behind the pin. Their signature on the pin and end-walls reflects directly in the local heat transfer. The Reynolds numbers is usually moderate and the incoming flow is non-turbulent, transiting to turbulence on or just behind the first or few subsequent pin/tube rows. Upstream from the first pin a sequence of several horseshoe vortices attached to the boundingwall is created, while the unsteady wake contains also multiple vortical systems which control the entrainment of fresh fluid and its mixing with the hot fluid that was in contact with the heated surfaces . The conventional CFD using standard turbulence models, as practiced by heat exchangers industries, falls short in capturing the subtle details of the complex vortex systems. A fine-grid LES can provide accurate solutions, but for more complex configurations and higher Re numbers a hybrid RANS/LES using a coarser grid seems a more rational option, provided it can capture all important flow and vortical features.
In order to shed more light on the flow structures, their role in heat transfer and the capabilities of a simple hybrid model to return the salient flow feature, we conduct in parallel a well-resolved LES, and coarse mesh hybrid and URANS simulations of initially non-turbulent flow over a single heated short cylinder bounded by infinite walls.