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Bronswerk Heat Transfer BV Develops Groundbreaking Air-Cooled Coolers

Sometimes an unexpected outcome of a project can have far flung implications. When Bronswerk Heat Transfer BV set out to develop a new air-cooled cooler and fan that was quieter and more efficient than others in the field, they were not quite aware that their new product would also have a massive impact on the environment.

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The information generated by FloEFD Pro especially for the taxing complexity of cooler aerodynamics is far beyond data obtainable through physical measurement and experimentation.”

Guus Bertels, Senior Engineer

Since its inception in 1940, Bronswerk has become a leading designer and manufacturer of heat exchangers, compressors and fans. They have quickly become the supplier of choice for companies such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, Bayer, Philips, Unocal and Texaco.

Bronswerk’s air-cooled coolers are used as process coolers in the oil and gas as well as chemical industries. Their fans range from 2 to 10 meters in diameter and cool heat exchangers which are also extremely large – often as big as a building. While designing a new generation of these industrial cooler systems and fans, the engineering team at Bronswerk faced a difficult challenge: to develop a new cooler and fan and make them as quiet as possible to meet stringent standards set by Environmental Control Boards (ECB) around the globe. ECBs are government organizations responsible for quality-of-life issues – any issue that protects the health, safety, and cleanliness of the environment. To further complicate the matter, the new fan design needed to cope with a wide range of environmental (wind gusts and building interference) fluids and pressure conditions.

Given the enormity of the task, the engineering team at Bronswerk used a combination of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire from PTC for creating the design and FloEFD Pro from Flomerics for flow and thermal analysis. Since FloEFD Pro is fully embedded inside Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, the combination of the two engineering tools enables Bronswerk to use a single design platform for geometrical design as well as mechanical and aerodynamic analysis without changing their design process

“Engineering Fluid Dynamics (EFD), the foundation for FloEFD Pro, is more practical than Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)” said Guus Bertels, senior Engineer. “EFD is a natural extension of CFD that is more intuitive for mechanical engineers. The information generated by FloEFD Pro especially for the taxing complexity of cooler aerodynamics is far beyond data obtainable through physical measurement and experimentation”.

In creating their new design, the Bronswerk engineering team needed to fully understand airflow patterns and compare them to those from older fans. “Airflow through heat exchangers is in many ways even more complex than airflow through gas turbines. Using FloEFD Pro, we were able to make hundreds of variations in the geometry to fine-tune the fan and heat exchanger performance and reduce costs without sacrificing quality. FloEFD Pro has dealt very capably with our complex geometry” added Bertels. “Our fans are large (2-10m). Each profiled cross-section is thick but tapers at the end to maybe half a millimeter. The numerical challenge of dealing with dimensions ranging from meters to less than a millimeter is enormous. FloEFD Pro is mature enough so we can rely on it to understand the behavior of our designs down to the smallest significant detail.”

After fine-tuning their design, Bronswerk has finally created an innovative design that is a giant leap forward and years ahead of their competition. While traditionally such apparatus has a thermodynamic efficiency of up to 60%, their new designs based on new fans achieves up to 80% efficiency. The potential energy savings worldwide can be staggering as their product can save 15% of the electricity it uses. These savings could result in 20% savings in generation capacity in Holland alone over the course of 10 years. “Our challenge was to develop the quietest cooler system. The added efficiency was an additional and unexpectedly huge benefit. Sometimes when you want to improve something you can’t just improve it a little bit. You need a large improvement to breakthrough into uncharted territories.”

With over 30 years of experience in the field of flow analysis, Bertels adds that “we would not have been able to solve this challenge without FloEFD Pro.”

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