Two-phase flow in helically coiled tubes is becoming the interest of many investigators because of its importance in various applications, such as nuclear engineering, chemical engineering, refrigerating engineering and power engineering. Compared with U-type tubes used in pressurized water reactor (PWR), helically coiled tubes have advantages in size, heat transfer capacity, thermal stress toleration and two-phase stability. Accordingly the helically coiled tubes have been utilized in the steam generators of the next general reactors, such as gas-cooled reactor, fast breeder reactor and integrated pressurized water reactor. In helically coiled tubes the characteristics of momentum and heat transfer are distinct from those in straight tubes due to the presence of centrifugal force, especially for two-phase flow. Meanwhile, the transitions of flow regime, which is the crucial knowledge for the designers to determine the heat transfer rates and flow resistance, are also significantly affected by the centrifugal force.
In this study, two-phase flow regimes in helically coiled tubes are investigated. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD), using fractional volume of fluid (VOF) model, is carried out to simulate wavy and slug flow regimes in helically coiled tubes. The corresponding experiment is also conducted to visualize these flow regimes at different superficial flow velocities. Numerical simulation results actually reflect the influence of centrifugal force on the two-phase flow and show a good agreement with the photographs captured from the experiment. Based on the simulations at different superficial flow velocities, the boundary between the slug and wavy flow regimes is predicted, in addition, compared with that in inclined tubes. The comparison indicates that centrifugal force could induce the appearance of wavy flows in advance and prompt the transition from slug flow to wavy flow.