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Encyclopedia > Countercurrent multiplier

Countercurrent exchange is a mechanism used to transfer some property of a fluid from one flowing current of fluid to another across a Semipermeable membrane or thermally-conductive material between them. The property transferred could be heat, concentration of a chemical substance, or others. Countercurrent exchange is used extensively in biological systems for a wide variety of purposes. For example, fish use it in their gills to transfer oxygen from the surrounding water into their blood, and birds use a countercurrent heat exchanger between blood vessels in their legs to keep heat concentrated within their bodies. In biology this is referred to as a Rete mirabile. Mammalian kidneys use countercurrent exchange to remove water from urine so the body can retain water used to move the nitrogenous waste products. Countercurrent exchange is also a key concept in chemical engineering thermodynamics and manufacturing processes, for example in extracting sucrose from sugar beet roots. A fluid is defined as a substance that continually deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress regardless of the magnitude of the applied stress. ... Scheme of semipermeable membrane during hemodialysis, where red is blood, blue is the dialysing fluid, and yellow is the membrane. ... In physics, heat, symbolized by Q, is defined as transfer of thermal energy [1] Generally, heat is a form of energy transfer associated with the different motions of atoms, molecules and other particles that comprise matter when it is hot and when it is cold. ... In chemistry, concentration is the measure of how much of a given substance there is mixed with another substance. ... Water and steam are two different forms of the same chemical substance A chemical substance is any material with a definite chemical composition, no matter where it comes from. ... A giant grouper at the Georgia Aquarium Fish are aquatic vertebrates that are typically cold-blooded; covered with scales, and equipped with two sets of paired fins and several unpaired fins. ... gills of a Smooth Newt Gills inside of a tuna head In aquatic organisms, gills are a respiratory organ for the extraction of oxygen from water and for the excretion of carbon dioxide. ... “Aves” redirects here. ... A heat exchanger is a device built for efficient heat transfer from one fluid to another, whether the fluids are separated by a solid wall so that they never mix, or the fluids are directly contacted. ... A rete mirabile (Latin for wonderful net) is a complex of arteries and veins lying very close to each other, found in a number of vertebrates, and serving different purposes. ... The kidneys filter wastes (such as urea) from the blood and excrete them, along with water, as urine. ... Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science (e. ... Thermodynamics (from the Greek θερμη, therme, meaning heat and δυναμις, dunamis, meaning power) is a branch of physics that studies the effects of changes in temperature, pressure, and volume on physical systems at the macroscopic scale by analyzing the collective motion of their particles using statistics. ... Sucrose (common name: table sugar, also called saccharose) is a disaccharide (glucose + fructose) with the molecular formula C12H22O11. ... Two sugar beets - the one on the left has been cultivated to be smoother than the traditional beet, so that it traps less soil. ...

Concurrent exchange and countercurrent exchange

The diagram presents a generic representation of a countercurrent exchange system, with two parallel tubes containing fluid separated by a semipermeable or thermoconductive membrane. The property to be exchanged, whose magnitude is represented by the shading, transfers across the barrier in the direction from greater to lesser according to the second law of thermodynamics. With the two flows moving in opposite directions, the countercurrent exchange system maintain a constant gradient between the two flows over their entire length. With a sufficiently long length and a sufficiently low flow rate this can result in almost all of the property being transferred. For other uses, see Gradient (disambiguation). ...

By contrast, in the concurrent (or co-current, parallel) exchange system the two fluid flows are in the same direction. As the diagram shows, a concurrent exchange system has a variable gradient over the length of the exchanger and is only capable of moving half of the property from one flow to the other, no matter how long the exchanger is. It can't achieve more than 50%, because at that point, equilibrium is reached, and the gradient declines to zero.


In a concurrent heat exchanger, the result is thermal equilibrium, with the hot fluid heating the cold, and the cold cooling the warm. Both fluids end up at around the same temperature, between the two original temperatures.

At the input end, we have a large temperature difference and lots of heat transfer; at the output end, we have a small temperature difference, and little heat transfer.

In a countercurrent heat exchanger, the hot fluid becomes cold, and the cold fluid becomes hot.

At the hot end, we have hot fluid coming in, warming further hot fluid which has been warmed through the length of the exchanger. Because the hot input is at its maximum temperature, it can warm the exiting fluid to near its own temperature.

At the cold end, because the cold fluid entering is still cold, it can extract the last of the heat from the now-cooled hot fluid, bringing its temperature down nearly to the level of the cold input.

Counter-current exchange of heat in organisms

Counter-current exchange is a highly efficient means of minimizing heat loss through the skin's surface because heat is recycled instead of being dissipated. This way, the heart does not have to pump blood as rapidly in order to maintain a constant body core temperature and thus, metabolic rate. Santorio Santorio (1561-1636) in his steelyard balance, from Ars de statica medecina, first published 1614 Metabolism (from μεταβολισμος(metavallo), the Greek word for change), in the most general sense, is the ingestion and breakdown of complex compounds, coupled...

When animals like the leatherback turtle and dolphins are in colder water to which they are not acclimatized, they use this CCHE mechanism. Counter current heat exchangers are made up of a complex network of peri-arterial venous plexuses that run from the heart and through the blubber to peripheral sites (i.e. the tail flukes, dorsal fin and pectoral fins). Each plexus consists of a singular artery containing warm blood from the heart surrounded by a bundle of veins containing cool blood from the body surface. As these fluids run past each other they create a heat gradient in which heat is transferred. The warm arterial blood transfers most of its heat to the cool venous blood in order to conserve heat by recirculating it back to the body core. Since the arteries are losing a good deal of their heat, by the time they reach the periphery surface, there will not be as much heat lost through convection [1]. Binomial name Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761) The Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the biggest of all living turtles, reaching a length of over 2. ... This article is about the dolphin mammal. ... Dorsal fin of an orca A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of fishes, whales, dolphins, and porpoises, as well as the (extinct) ichthyosaurs. ... Fish anatomy is primarily governed by the physical characteristics of water, which is much denser than air, holds a relatively small amount of dissolved oxygen, and absorbs light more than does air. ... Convection in the most general terms refers to the internal movement of currents within fluids (i. ...

See also

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Heat exchangers



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