Artificial neural network modelling of the thermal performance of a compact heat exchanger

Steven Wilcox, John Ward, Chee Tan, R Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports the use of artificial neural network models to simulate the thermal performance of a compact, fin-tube heat exchanger with air and water/ethylene glycol anti-freeze mixtures as the working fluids. The model predictions were compared with experimental data over a range of flow rates and inlet temperatures and with various ethylene glycol concentrations. In addition, the inlet air flow was distorted by obstructing part of the inlet ducting near the front face of the exchanger. The artificial neural networks were able to predict the overall rate of heat transfer in the exchanger with a high degree of accuracy and in this respect were found to be superior over conventional non-linear regression models in capturing the underlying non-linearity in the data. Moreover the detailed spatial variations in outlet air temperature were also adequately predicted. The results indicate that appropriately trained neural networks can simulate both the overall and “local” characteristics of the compact heat exchanger. In addition the paper demonstrates how an alternative type of neural network, the so-called Self-Organising-Map (SOM), can be employed for heat exchanger condition monitoring by identifying and classifying the deterioration in exchanger performance which, in this case, was associated with different levels of inlet obstruction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3609 - 3617
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Issue number17-18
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2009


  • neural networks
  • non-linear regression
  • heat exchangers
  • fault detection
  • modelling


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