Bejan
Assistant Professor,
A Study of Entropy Generation in
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Colorado,
Boulder, CO 80309
Assoc. Mem. ASME
Fundamental Conwectife Heat
Transfer
The second law aspects of heat transfer by forced convection are illustrated in terms of
four fundamental flow configurations: pipe flow, boundary layer over flat plate, single cyl
inder in crossflow, flow in the entrance region of a flat rectangular duct. The interplay
between irreversibility due to heat transfer along finite temperature gradients and, on
the other hand, irreversibility due to viscous effects is analyzed in detail. The spatial dis
tribution of irreversibility, entropy generation profiles or maps, and those flow features
acting as strong sources of irreversibility are presented. It is shown how the flow geometric
parameters may be selected in order to minimize the irreversibility associated with a spe
cific convective heat transfer process.
Introduction
Our understanding of heat transfer processes is destined to play bated the way it should be, in view of its relevance to the energy
a significant role in the effort toward workable alternatives to the conservation questions facing the engineering profession. By analyzing
growing energy problem. In particular, the task of conserving useful the irreversibility associated with heat transfer we are not including
energy rests heavily on our ability to produce thermodynamically one additional effect in an already complex heat transfer model. On
efficient heat transfer processes and equipment for such processes. the contrary, through irreversibility we are bringing out that feature
Consequently, in recent years we witnessed a growing interest in the of heat transfer present even in the simplest possible heat transfer
thermodynamics of heat transfer and the thermodynamics of heat model.
exchange equipment. This interest will continue to grow in the fu
ture. Local Rate of Entropy Generation
Heat transfer processes are generally accompanied by thermody Consider the twodimensional infinitesimal fluid element dxdy
namic irreversibility or entropy generation. The generation of entropy shown schematically in Fig. 1. The fluid element is part of a consid
may be due to a variety of sources, primarily heat transfer down erably more complex convective heat transfer picture. However, for
temperature gradients and, characteristic of convective heat transfer, the scope of this presentation, we regard the element as an open
viscous effects. There exists a direct proportionality between the ir thermodynamic system subjected to mass fluxes, energy transfer and
reversibility (entropy generation) of the process and the amount of entropy transfer interactions through a fixed control surface. The
useful work dissipated in the process [13]. This relationship implies element size is small enough so that the thermodynamic state of the
that in cases where the heat transfer process is part of a power cycle, fluid inside the element may be regarded as uniform (independent
the process irreversibility causes a direct drop in the useful power of position). However, the thermodynamic state of the small fluid
output of the cycle. Conversely, should the heat transfer process be element may change with time.
part of a refrigeration cycle, the process irreversibility leads to a direct For this study, we limit our attention to incompressible fluids
increase in the mechanical power input to the cycle. Either way, the without internal heat generation. In such cases, the expression for the
irreversibility brought by the heat transfer process amounts to a volumetric rate of entropy generation reduces to [7]
penalty in useful power.
With a better understanding of how entropy is being generated in
heat transfer processes and engineering components for heat exchange
it is possible to reduce the process irreversibility, thus registering
S'" =
y2 iM d0\2'
T levy,
dvx dvyy (1)
savings in useful (available) power. With this objective in mind, Bejan dy
showed how the entropy generation rate can systematically be reduced
dxj
in simple components for heat exchange, namely, counterflow gas
togas heat exchangers [4], heat exchangers with prescribed heat flux
distribution [5] and sensible heat units for energy storage [6],
The main objective of the present article is to analyze the mecha
nism of entropy generation in basic configurations encountered in
convective heat transfer. Unlike the earlier papers which addressed
the subject of irreversibility reduction in the design of engineering y + dy
components for heat exchange [46], the present work is fundamental.
In this article we seek to identify the origin of entropy production and
its distribution through fluid flows most commonly found in con
vective heat transfer situations. In addition, we discuss the engi
neering implications of this study, specifically, the manner in which
a basic flow geometry may be selected in order to minimize the rate
of entropy generation associated with the convective heat transfer
process.
A second objective of this study is to illustrate, in a very modest way,
the place thermodynamics duly occupies in heat transfer. It is un
J_
fortunate that the link which exists between the two fields is not de
x x+dx
Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division for publication in the JOURNAL
OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received by the Heat Transfer Division Fig. 1 Entropy generation analysis for an infinitesimal element dxdy in
March 8,1979. convective heat transfer
718 / VOL. 101, NOVEMBER 1979 Copyright 1979 by ASME Transactions of the ASME
.Nomenclature.
a = halfthickness of flat duct, Fig. 5 Pr = Prandtl number x* = dimensionless coordinate, equation
So, B = duty parameters, equations (17) and q", q', q = heat transfer interaction, [WVm2], (51)
(37) [W/m], [W] y = vertical coordinate
cp = specific heat at constant pressure r = radial position a = thermal diffusivity
Co = drag coefficient, equation (44) ro = tube radius, Fig. 2 & = velocity boundary layer thickness
Cfx = local skin friction coefficient, equation R = dimensionless radial position &T = thermal boundary layer thickness
'(34) Re = Reynolds number f = dimensionless coordinate across flat
D = hydraulic diameter s = specific entropy duct
Ec = Eckert number, equation (3) S'", S", S' = rate of entropy generation, ?) = similarity variable in boundary layer flow
/ = function, equation (26); friction factor, [W/msK], [W/m2K], [W/mK] over flat plate
equation (14) S"FD rate of entropy generation in the 6 = temperature difference, T To
FD = drag force fullydeveloped region 6 = extreme tremperature difference, T
hx = local heat transfer coefficient t = time To
k = thermal conductivity T = absolute temperature fi = viscosity
LE = entrance region length To = reference temperature v = kinematic viscosity
Lpo = length of irreversibilityequivalent u = specific internal energy p = fluid density
fullydeveloped section, equation (58) vx, Vy = velocity components r = ratio of characteristic temperature dif
m = mass flow rate Vo = entrance velocity, Fig. 5 fererite divided by the absolute tempera
Ns", Ns", Ns' = entropy generation Vi = centerline velocity, Fig. 5 ture
number Vi* = dimensionless centerline velocity, T 0 = wall shear stress, equation (34)
Nu = Nusselt number equation (50) $ = viscous dissipation function, equation
P = pressure x = horizontal coordinate (2)
,min '.:..
N
S

PrI^v^ 
10 
10
Re L,opt 
106
R e
i .
L,opt
10*
/ / i i i
10 10* 10
Fig. 4. Optimum Reynolds number and corresponding minimum entropy generation number. Left: boundary layer flow over a flat plate. Right: single cylinder
in gaseous crossflow
Re op t = 0; Ns>' 1 (18,19)
In engineering terms, this result implies that the selected tube radius
ro must be large enough so that the rate of entropy generation is
strongly dominated by the contribution due to heat transfer across
a finite temperature difference. In other words, based on expression
(15),
24 7T4
Re4B(T2l. (20)
11
For turbulent flow, the Ns' expression (15) has a unique minimum.
Substituting Nu = 0.023 Pr04 Re08 and / = 0.046 Re" 0  2 into (15) and
differentiating with respect to Re yields
Re o p t = 2.023 P r  0  0 7 1 S 0  0  3 (21)
and
solid
NS' 126 Pr" 0  343 B 0 (22) wall
Expressions (21, 22) have been summarized in the right hand side of
Fig. 2 for two discrete values of Prandtl number. As the aggregate duty
parameter Bo increases, we see that the optimum tube radius de
creases (Re op t increases) and the minimum entropy generation
number Nsmm decreases also.
As a numerical example, consider the heat transfer to an air stream
at atmospheric pressure and an average temperature of 1100 K. In flow direction
order to use realistic values for q' and m in the Bo formula (17), it is
helpful to replace q' by mcp(dT/dx). For a longitudinal temperature
gradient of the order of 10 K/m, and for a mass flow of 100 Kg/hr, we
obtain B 0 = (2.6) 10 10 and, from (21), Re o p t = (1.11)104. Finally, ex Fig. 3. Entropy generation surface lor laminar boundary layer flow and heat
transfer along a flat plate
pression (16) yields an optimum tube radius ro l0p t = 3.6 cm. Calcu
lations of this type are relevant to the optimum thermodynamic design The complex dependence of S'" on both x and y is shown in Fig.
of heat exchanger passages with prescribed heat transfer distribution. 3. The threedimensional display was done in terms of (x vXi/v) and
Examples of such heat exchangers are the core of a nuclear reactor (y vx^h) in the horizontal plane, and Ns/(1 + Ec P r / r ) in the ver
and, from a recently expanding technology, a superconducting cable tical direction. It is evident that the irreversibility effects are limited
cooled with liquid helium by forced convection [10]. to the boundary layer. Regarding the y dependence oiNs", the en
tropy generation rate is highest reaching a peak at the solid wall. The
Boundary Layer Over Flat Plate longitudinal variation of S'" is as l/x, indicating that like all gradients
Laminar Flow over Isothermal Plate. Consider now the de in this boundary layer solution S'" blows up at the origin. The viscous
velopment of laminar momentum and thermal boundary layers along effect again scales up as Ec P r / r .
a flat plate. The situation is shown schematically in the horizontal Integrating (25) across the boundary layer we can calculate the rate
plane of the isometric drawing of Fig. 3. At some distance from the of entropy generation per unit area of flat plate,
solid wall the fluid velocity and temperature are uniform, ux? and
T. The wall temperature is constant, To.
The study of the velocity and temperature fields in the vicinity of
S">
I s . dy . 0 . 26 *!i4=![ 1 + )
a Re* 1 / 2 (27)
on S' is
associated with velocity and temperature gradients in x direction, we
find
2
Ns> , n2 0.50  1 + ^ W I/2. (30)
. k 0  ^ , ( / ) 2 + /"V 2 kdJ
S" if") (25)
T02vx " ' T0vx It is worth mentioning that in general the Prandtl number will have
an additional effect on the relative importance of viscous and con
The local entropy generation number is
ductive effects in the constitution of S'", S" and S'. It is easy to show
NS'
. s '" i vT \2=i t { EcPrj(/")2
(26)
that when Pr 7^ 1 the viscous effects scale up as
' k \evxJ \ T / Re* E c P r / M a _ Ec Pi1/3
(31)
where Re* is defined as vx *,xjv. T \8j T
,min '.:..
N
S

PrI^v^ 
10 
10
Re L,opt 
106
R e
i .
L,opt
10*
/ / i i i
10 10* 10
Fig. 4. Optimum Reynolds number and corresponding minimum entropy generation number. Left: boundary layer flow over a flat plate. Right: single cylinder
in gaseous crossflow
S"/S" T
2a
'i
.entrance fullydeveloped
region region
end of
entrance
region
_i_ _L _L
0 0.05 0.1
Fig. 5. Distribution of the entropy generation rate in the entrance region of a flat rectangular duct in laminar flow
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