CFD analysis of Aircraft fuel tanks thermal behaviour
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This work is carried out within the FP7 European research project TOICA (Thermal Overall Integrated Conception of Aircraft, http://www.toica-fp7.eu/). One of the tasks foreseen for the TOICA project is the analysis of fuel tanks as possible heat sinks for future aircrafts. In particular, in the present paper, commercial regional aircraft is considered as case study and CFD analysis with the commercial code STAR-CCM+ is performed in order to identify the potential capability to use fuel stored in the tanks as a heat sink for waste heat dissipated by other systems. The complex physical phenomena that characterize the heat transfer inside liquid fuel, at the fuel-ullage interface and inside the ullage are outlined. Boundary conditions, including the effect of different ground and flight conditions, are implemented in the numerical simulation approach. The analysis is implemented for a portion of aluminium wing fuel tank, including the leading edge effects. Effect of liquid fuel transfer among different tank compartments and the air flow in the ullage is included. According to Fuel Tank Flammability Assessment Method (FTFAM) proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, the results are exploited in terms of exponential time constants and fuel temperature difference to the ambient for the different cases investigated.