Validity evaluation of popular liquid-vapor phase change models for cryogenic self-pressurization process

액체-증기 상 변화 모델은 밀폐된 용기의 자체 가압 프로세스 시뮬레이션에 매우 큰 영향을 미칩니다. Hertz-Knudsen 관계, 에너지 점프 모델 및 그 파생물과 같은 널리 사용되는 액체-증기 상 변화 모델은 실온 유체를 기반으로 개발되었습니다. 액체-증기 전이를 통한 극저온 시뮬레이션에 널리 적용되었지만 각 모델의 성능은 극저온 조건에서 명시적으로 조사 및 비교되지 않았습니다. 본 연구에서는 171가지 일반적인 액체-증기 상 변화 모델을 통합한 통합 다상 솔버가 제안되었으며, 이를 통해 이러한 모델을 실험 데이터와 직접 비교할 수 있습니다. 증발 및 응축 모델의 예측 정확도와 계산 속도를 평가하기 위해 총 <>개의 자체 가압 시뮬레이션이 수행되었습니다. 압력 예측은 최적화 전략이 서로 다른 모델 계수에 크게 의존하는 것으로 나타났습니다. 에너지 점프 모델은 극저온 자체 가압 시뮬레이션에 적합하지 않은 것으로 나타났습니다. 평균 편차와 CPU 소비량에 따르면 Lee 모델과 Tanasawa 모델은 다른 모델보다 안정적이고 효율적인 것으로 입증되었습니다.


International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer

Volume 181, December 2021, 121879

International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer

Validity evaluation of popular liquid-vapor phase change models for cryogenic self-pressurization process

Author links open overlay panelZhongqi Zuo, Jingyi Wu, Yonghua HuangShow moreAdd to MendeleyShareCite rights and content


Liquid-vapor phase change models vitally influence the simulation of self-pressurization processes in closed containers. Popular liquid-vapor phase change models, such as the Hertz-Knudsen relation, energy jump model, and their derivations were developed based on room-temperature fluids. Although they had widely been applied in cryogenic simulations with liquid-vapor transitions, the performance of each model was not explicitly investigated and compared yet under cryogenic conditions. A unified multi-phase solver incorporating four typical liquid-vapor phase change models has been proposed in the present study, which enables direct comparison among those models against experimental data. A total number of 171 self-pressurization simulations were conducted to evaluate the evaporation and condensation models’ prediction accuracy and calculation speed. It was found that the pressure prediction highly depended on the model coefficients, whose optimization strategies differed from each other. The energy jump model was found inadequate for cryogenic self-pressurization simulations. According to the average deviation and CPU consumption, the Lee model and the Tanasawa model were proven to be more stable and more efficient than the others.


The liquid-vapor phase change of cryogenic fluids is widely involved in industrial applications, such as the hydrogen transport vehicles [1], shipborne liquid natural gas (LNG) containers [2] and on-orbit cryogenic propellant tanks [3]. These applications require cryogenic fluids to be stored for weeks to months. Although high-performance insulation measures are adopted, heat inevitably enters the tank via radiation and conduction. The self-pressurization in the tank induced by the heat leakage eventually causes the venting loss of the cryogenic fluids and threatens the safety of the craft in long-term missions. To reduce the boil-off loss and extend the cryogenic storage duration, a more comprehensive understanding of the self-pressurization mechanism is needed.

Due to the difficulties and limitations in implementing cryogenic experiments, numerical modeling is a convenient and powerful way to study the self-pressurization process of cryogenic fluids. However, how the phase change models influence the mass and heat transfer under cryogenic conditions is still unsettled [4]. As concluded by Persad and Ward [5], a seemingly slight variation in the liquid-vapor phase change models can lead to erroneous predictions.

Among the liquid-vapor phase change models, the kinetic theory gas (KTG) based models and the energy jump model are the most popular ones used in recent self-pressurization simulations [6]. The KTG based models, also known as the Hertz-Knudsen relation models, were developed on the concept of the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of the gas molecular [7]. The Hertz-Knudsen relation has evolved to several models, including the Schrage model [8], the Tanasawa model [9], the Lee model [10] and the statistical rate theory (SRT) [11], which will be described in Section 2.2. Since the Schrage model and the Lee model are embedded and configured as the default ones in the commercial CFD solvers Flow-3D® and Ansys Fluent® respectively, they have been widely used in self-pressurization simulations for liquid nitrogen [12], [13] and liquid hydrogen [14], [15]. The major drawback of the KTG models lies in the difficulty of selecting model coefficients, which were reported in a considerably wide range spanning three magnitudes even for the same working fluid [16], [17], [18], [19], [20], [21]. Studies showed that the liquid level, pressure and mass transfer rate are directly influenced by the model coefficients [16], [22], [23], [24], [25]. Wrong coefficients will lead to deviation or even divergence of the results. The energy jump model is also known as the thermal limitation model. It assumes that the evaporation and condensation at the liquid-vapor interface are induced only by heat conduction. The model is widely adopted in lumped node simulations due to its simplicity [6], [26], [27]. To improve the accuracy of mass flux prediction, the energy jump model was modified by including the convection heat transfer [28], [29]. However, the convection correlations are empirical and developed mainly for room-temperature fluids. Whether the correlation itself can be precisely applied in cryogenic simulations still needs further investigation.

Fig. 1 summarizes the cryogenic simulations involving the modeling of evaporation and condensation processes in recent years. The publication has been increasing rapidly. However, the characteristics of each evaporation and condensation model are not explicitly revealed when simulating self-pressurization. A comparative study of the phase change models is highly needed for cryogenic fluids for a better simulation of the self-pressurization processes.

In the present paper, a unified multi-phase solver incorporating four typical liquid-vapor phase change models, namely the Tanasawa model, the Lee model, the energy jump model, and the modified energy jump model has been proposed, which enables direct comparison among different models. The models are used to simulate the pressure and temperature evolutions in an experimental liquid nitrogen tank in normal gravity, which helps to evaluate themselves in the aspects of accuracy, calculation speed and robustness.

Section snippets

Governing equations for the self-pressurization tank

In the present study, both the fluid domain and the solid wall of the tank are modeled and discretized. The heat transportation at the solid boundaries is considered to be irrelevant with the nearby fluid velocity. Consequently, two sets of the solid and the fluid governing equations can be decoupled and solved separately. The pressures in the cryogenic container are usually from 100 kPa to 300 kPa. Under these conditions, the Knudsen number is far smaller than 0.01, and the fluids are

Self-pressurization results and phase change model comparison

This section compares the simulation results by different phase change models. Section 3.1 compares the pressure and temperature outputs from two KTG based models, namely the Lee model and the Tanasawa model. Section 3.2 presents the pressure predictions from the energy transport models, namely the energy jump model and the modified energy jump model, and compares pressure prediction performances between the KTG based models and the energy transport models. Section 3.3 evaluates the four models 


A unified vapor-liquid-solid multi-phase numerical solver has been accomplished for the self pressurization simulation in cryogenic containers. Compared to the early fluid-only solver, the temperature prediction in the vicinity of the tank wall improves significantly. Four liquid-vapor phase change models were integrated into the solver, which enables fair and effective comparison for performances between each other. The pressure and temperature prediction accuracies, and the calculation speed

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Zhongqi Zuo: Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Validation. Jingyi Wu: Conceptualization, Writing – review & editing, Validation. Yonghua Huang: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Writing – review & editing, Validation.

Declaration of Competing Interest

Authors declare that they have no financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that can inappropriately influence our work, there is no professional or other personal interest of any nature or kind in any product, service and/or company that could be construed as influencing the position presented in, or the review of, the manuscript entitled, “Validity evaluation of popular liquid-vapor phase change models for cryogenic self-pressurization process”.


This project is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51936006).

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