NTU method - effectiveness (epsilon)


The Number of Transfer Units (NTU) Method is used to calculate the rate of heat transfer in heat exchangers (especially counter current exchangers) when there is insufficient information to calculate the Log-Mean Temperature Difference (LMTD). In heat exchanger analysis, if the fluid inlet and outlet temperatures are specified or can be determined by simple energy balance, the LMTD method can be used; but when these temperatures are not available The NTU or The Effectiveness method is used.

To define the effectiveness of a heat exchanger we need to find the maximum possible heat transfer that can be hypothetically achieved in a counter-flow heat exchanger of infinite length. Therefore one fluid will experience the maximum possible temperature difference, which is the difference of T_h,i – T_c,i (The temperature difference between the inlet temperature of the hot stream and the inlet temperature of the cold stream). The method proceeds by calculating the heat capacity rates (i.e. mass flow rate multiplied by specific heat) C_h and C_c for the hot and cold fluids respectively, and denoting the smaller one as C_min.

The effectiveness (epsilon) is calculated by the shown formula. Effectiveness is dimensionless quantity between 0 and 1.

The maximum heat transfer rate (q_max) can be calculated from:
NTU method – maximum heat transfer rate

The actual heat transfer rate (q) can be calculated from:
NTU method – actual heat transfer rate (q)

Related formulas


ϵThe effectiveness (dimensionless)
qThe actual heat transfer rate (W)
qmaxThe maximum heat transfer rate (W)