Examining the effect of void plugs for airflow distribution using a validated 3D CFD model of a fully packed refrigerated container
Postharvest losses are a worldwide phenomenon that affects both developed and developing nations. The high incidence of postharvest losses is a major hindrance in addressing food sustainability and security concerns. To curb the advent of postharvest losses caused by inefficient storage of horticultural produce, adequate cold chain management is necessary. Refrigerated container relies on the flow of cooled air around stacked fruit to remove field heat during transportation to a distant export or domestic market. Achieving uniform cooling and flow of cold air within the refrigerated container remains a challenge. Non-uniform cooling that occurs during cold chain systems (cold storage, refrigerated transportation) is caused by non-homogenous airflow distribution within palletised stacks. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of void plugs on the airflow distribution within pallet stacks in a refrigerated container. A validated steady 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of a fully packed refrigerated container was used in this study. Void plugs were used to cover the unutilised floor area (freestream region) between the container door and pallet stacks. The effect of the void plug was characterised using vertical airflow profile and performance evaluation parameter (Vigneault (Vi) number). Rear pallet stacks with void plugs have a lower Vi number (0.1) than the pallet stacks without void plugs (0.24). This study establishes that the coverage of the unutilised floor areas with fibreboard corrugated boxes has enormous potential to improve the vertical flow and airflow uniformity within the rear pallet stacks.
Tiamiyu, N.A., Berry, T.M., Ambaw, A., Coetzee, C.J. and Opara, U.L. (2022). Examining the effect of void plugs for airflow distribution using a validated 3D CFD model of a fully packed refrigerated container. Acta Hortic. 1349, 443-448
computational fluid dynamics, airflow, void plug, pallet stack, refrigerated container, cooling, airflow bypass