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Technical Paper

Numerical Simulation of Two-Phase Flow in the Second Header of MAC Condenser

Phase separation circuiting have been proved in the past to effectively improve the performance of mobile air conditioning (MAC) condensers. In the vertical second header of the condenser, liquid separates from vapor mainly due to gravity, leaving vapor-rich flow with higher heat transfer coefficient to go into the upper passes. The condenser effectiveness is improved in this way. However, separation is usually not perfect, expressed through the separation efficiency (ηl and ηv). This paper presents the numerical study of phase separation phenomena in the second header. The Euler-Euler method of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is used. Simulations are conducted for two-phase refrigerant R-134a for MAC application. Inlet mass flow rate is simulated at values of 16 g∙s-1, 20 g∙s-1, and 30 g∙s-1 for 21 inlet microchannel tubes, which is the same 1st-pass tube number as of a real separation condenser. Corresponding mass fluxes are 166 kg∙m-2∙s-1, 207 kg∙m-2∙s-1, and 311 kg∙m-2∙s-1.
Journal Article

Flow Visualization and Experimental Measurement of Compressor Oil Separator

This article presents basic separation mechanisms with coalescing/impinging separators studied as the add-on to current popular centrifugal designs. The coalescence and impingement of oil on wire mesh and wave-plates are visualized and tested to investigate the impact of geometry and flow conditions on oil separation efficiency. Re-entrainment phenomenon is explained based on the mass balance. Oil mist flow at the swashplate reciprocating compressor discharge is quantified by video processing method to provide detailed information of the oil droplets. The physics behind oil separator is illustrated by visualization and measurement in this study, which gives useful guidelines for oil separator design and operation. The flow visualization shows the details of oil passing through different oil separation structures. Videos are quantified to provide information like droplet size distribution and liquid volume fraction.
Journal Article

Efficiency Improvement by Separation of Vapor and Liquid in Condenser Headers

This paper introduces the concept of separation of two-phase flow in condenser as a way to improve condenser efficiency. The benefits of vapor-liquid refrigerant separation and the reason why it will improve the condenser performance are explained. Numerical studies are presented on the effects of separation on performance of an R134a microchannel condenser, with the comparison to experiment data. Model predicts that at the same mass flow rate, the exit temperature is lower by 2.2 K in the separation condenser compared with that in the baseline. Up to 9% more flow rate of condensate is also predicted by the model in the separation condenser. Experiment results confirm the same trend. In addition, the reason why a certain circuiting of passes with pre-assumed separation results in the header improves the condenser is investigated by the model and results are presented.
Technical Paper

Experimentally Validated Effects of Separation of Liquid and Vapor on Performance of Condenser and System

This paper presents the results of an experimental study to determine the effect of vapor-liquid refrigerant separation in a microchannel condenser of a MAC system. R134a is used as the working fluid. A condenser with separation and a baseline condenser identical on the air side have been tested to evaluate the difference in the performance due to separation. Two categories of experiments have been conducted: the heat exchanger-level test and the system-level test. In the heat exchanger-level test it is found that the separation condenser condenses from 1.6% to 7.4% more mass flow than the baseline at the same inlet and outlet temperature (enthalpy); the separation condenser condenses the same mass flow to a lower temperature than the baseline condenser does. In the system-level test, COP is compared under the same superheat, subcooling and refrigerating capacity. Separation condenser shows up to 6.6% a higher COP than the baseline condenser.
Technical Paper

Effect of Pressure Drop in the Header on Refrigerant Distribution in an Outdoor Reversible Microchannel Heat Exchanger

Although refrigerant maldistribution among parallel microchannel tubes is mainly caused by phase separation of vapor and liquid in the header, it is also affected by pressure drop in the header. This study experimentally investigates the pressure drop of single-phase and two-phase R134a flow in the vertical header of a multi-pass microchannel heat exchanger. R134a is circulated into the transparent header through multi-parallel microchannel tubes in the bottom pass and exits through multi-parallel microchannel tubes in the top pass representing the flow in the heat pump mode of a reversible system. The pressure drop in the vertical header causes the top tube has lower mass flow rate than the lower tubes for both single-phase and two-phase flow. The overall pressure drop in the header includes four components: acceleration, gravitation, friction, and minor pressure drop due to microchannel tube protrusion.
Journal Article

Refrigerant and Lubricant Distribution in MAC System

This paper presents experimental results for refrigerant and lubricant mass distribution in a typical automotive A/C (MAC) system. Experiments were conducted by closing valves located at the inlet and outlet of each component after reaching steady state, isolating the refrigerant and lubricant in each component. Refrigerant mass is recovered in a separate vessel using liquid nitrogen to reduce refrigerant vapor pressure to near vacuum. The overall weight is determined within ±1% after the separation of refrigerant and lubricant. The mass of lubricant is determined by using three different techniques: Remove and Weigh, Mix and Sample, and Flushing. The total mass of lubricant in the system is determined with ±2.5% uncertainty on average. R134a and R1234yf are used with PAG 46 oil as working fluid at different Oil Circulation Ratio (OCR), ranging from 2% to 4%. Experiments are conducted in two standard testing conditions: I35 and L35 (SAE Standard J2765).
Journal Article

Experimentally Validated Model of Refrigerant Distribution in a Parallel Microchannel Evaporator

This paper develops a model for a parallel microchannel evaporator that incorporates quality variation at the tube inlets and variable mass flow rates among tubes. The flow distribution is based on the equal pressure drop along each flow path containing headers and tubes. The prediction of pressure drop, cooling capacity, and exit superheat strongly agree with 48 different experimental results obtained in four configurations using R134a. Predicted temperature profiles are very close to infrared images of actual evaporator surface. When compared to the uniform distribution model (that assumes uniform distribution of refrigerant mass flow rate and quality) results from the new model indicate superior prediction of cooling capacity, and exit superheat. Model results indicate maldistribution of refrigerant mass flow rate among the parallel tubes, caused primarily by pressure drop in the outlet header.
Journal Article

Evaluation of Transient Refrigerant Migration Modeling Approach on Automotive Air Conditioning Systems

Automotive air conditioning systems are subject to constantly changing operation conditions and steady state simulations are not sufficient to describe the actual performance. The refrigerant mass migration during transient events such as clutch-cycling or start-up has a direct impact on the transient performance. It is therefore necessary to develop simulation tools which can accurately predict the migration of the refrigerant mass. To this end a dynamic model of an automotive air conditioning system is presented in this paper using a switched modeling framework. Model validation against experimental results demonstrates that the developed modeling approach is able to describe the transient behaviors of the system, and also predict the refrigerant mass migration among system components during compressor shut-down and start-up (stop-start) cycling operations.
Journal Article

Effect of Flash Gas Bypass on the Performance of R134a Mobile Air-Conditioning System with Microchannel Evaporator

This paper demonstrates that the implementation of Flash Gas Bypass method can improve the performance of conventional direct expansion R134a mobile air-conditioning system with a microchannel evaporator. This method uses flash gas tank after expansion valve to separate and bypass flash refrigerant vapor around the evaporator, and feed the evaporator with only liquid refrigerant. Pressure drop is reduced and refrigerant distribution is significantly improved, resulting in higher evaporator effectiveness and evaporation pressure. Both lower pressure drop and lifted evaporation pressure allows the compressor to work with lower pressure ratio, saving required compressor work. An experimental comparison of the direct expansion system shows that Flash Gas Bypass method increases the cooling capacity and COP at the same time by up to 16% and 11%, respectively.
Technical Paper

Using R744 (CO2) to Cool an Up-Armored M1114 HMMWV

The US Army uses a light tactical High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) which, due to the amount of armor added, requires air conditioning to keep its occupants comfortable. The current system uses R134a in a dual evaporator, remote-mounted condenser, engine-driven compressor system. This vehicle has been adapted to use an environmentally friendly refrigerant (carbon dioxide) to provide performance, efficiency, comfort and logistical benefits to the Army. The unusual thermal heat management issues and the fact that the vehicle is required to operate under extreme ambient conditions have made the project extremely challenging. This paper is a continuation of work presented at the SAE Alternate Refrigerants Symposium held in Phoenix last June [1].
Technical Paper

Clutch Cycling Mode of Compressor Capacity Control of Transcritical R744 Systems Compared to R134a Systems

The paper presents an experimental analysis of the performance of a prototype air conditioning system based on transcritical operation with R744 as the refrigerant. A comparative analysis of the performance of three systems is also presented: two R744 (with back pressure and manual expansion valves) and R134a with a fixed area orifice tube. Results show that there is an optimal setting of the back pressure valve in cycling conditions that maximizes COP for the R744 system. That is very important because the system operates most of the time in cycling mode, where there is excessive capacity, and the objective is to maximize COP. Furthermore, it is shown that those values follow the same relation as developed for non-cycling operation.
Technical Paper

A Control-Oriented Model of Transcritical Air-Conditioning System Dynamics

This paper presents a dynamic model of a transcritical air-conditioning system, specifically suited for multivariable controller design. The physically-based model retains sufficient detail to accurately predict system dynamic response while also being simple enough to be of value in determining appropriate control strategies. The control focus would be quasi-steady transitions between operating states by modulating flow rates of both air and refrigerant to meet changing constraints on capacity, efficiency, noise, etc. The model structure is highly modular, accommodating various system configurations and component types. The modeling results are programmed as a library of components for use in Simulink, a graphical programming package.