Air Curtain CFD


This project was for a Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) that wanted a horizontal, heated holding area for food items but did not want to have doors for crew access. Having to operate a door while maintaining sanitized hands and utensils was slowing down the food preparation process.

The solution was to devise a heated and humidified holding area with a horizontal air curtain across the top opening. Crew members could reach through the air curtain to retrieve food items without touching any surfaces. By heating and humidifying the air curtain flow, the internal conditions remained constant and this allowed the food to be held for longer periods without sacrificing quality.

The solution was developed and analyzed using Fluent® computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. The model handled the basic flow of the air curtain and considered entrainment from within the holding area and the surrounding air. Thermal calculations were also conducted within the model to size the heating and humidification system.

A physical model was built and tested based on the parameters that were determined using the CFD model. This prototype was tested using food items from the QSR and found to be better than the door-opening approach in terms of holding longevity and product quality.