Due to the characteristics of large surface area-to-volume ratio and inter-connected ligament structure, open-cell metal foams are promising materials for enhancing heat transfer in forced convection and have been researched for thermal applications in thermal management systems, air-cooled condensers and compact heat sinks for power electronics. However, the tortuous complex flow path inside metal foams leads to relatively higher pressure drop, which requires larger system pumping power. Hence, it is important to study the heat transfer performance of metal foam compared to its flow resistance characteristics.
Detailed experimental study of forced convection subjected to constant heat flux in metal foams is conducted in the present paper. The objective of the investigation is to compare the heat transfer performance and hydraulic characteristics of aluminum foams with different pore densities. The tested aluminium foam samples are of 50.0mm (L) × 25.0mm (W) × 12.0mm (H) in geometric dimensions and pore densities are of 5ppi, 10ppi and 40ppi, respectively. Experiments are performed in forced convective heat transfer using deionized water as the cooling fluid. To minimize the heat loss, the test section is built adiabatically with Teflon and polycarbonate materials. The inlet flow velocity, the temperature distribution on the heating surface and the pressure drop across the metal form are measured. Based on the analysis of experimental data, it is found that convective heat transfer performance in high ppi foam is higher than that in low ppi foam, while the pressure drop shows the opposite trend for a given flow rate.