Analysis of flow maldistribution in fin-and-tube evaporators for residential air-conditioning systems

Martin Ryhl Kærn

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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    This thesis is concerned with the effects of flow maldistribution in fin-and-tube A-coil evaporators for residential air-conditioning and compensation potentials with regards to system performance. The goal is to create a better understanding of flow maldistribution and the involved physical phenomenons. Moreover, the study investigates the individual and combined effects of non-uniform inlet liquid/vapor distribution, different feeder tube bending and non-uniform airflow. In addition, the possible compensation of these maldistribution sources is investigated by control of individual channel superheat by distributing individual channel mass flow rate continuously (perfect control). The compensation method is compared to the use of a larger evaporator in order to study their trade-off in augmenting system performance (cooling capacity and COP). The studies are performed by numerical modeling in the object-oriented programming language Modelicar and by using the commercial modeling environment Dymola 7.4 (2010). The evaporator model needs to be capable of predicting the flow distribution and circuitry effects, and for these reasons the dynamic distributed one-dimensional mixture two-phase flow model is implemented. The model is verified in steady state with commercial software Coil-Designer (Jiang et al., 2006) and compared to steady state experiments with acceptable results considering the unknown degrees of flow maldistribution for these experiments. Furthermore, the system dynamics in the model were validated and showed that a slip flow model need be used. A test case 8.8 kW residential air-conditioning system with R410A as refrigerant is chosen as baseline for the numerical investigations, and the simulations are performed at standard rating conditions from ANSI/AHRI Standard 210/240 (2008). The investigations are performed on a simplified evaporator tube circuitry (two straight channels), a face split evaporator circuitry and an interlaced evaporator circuitry. The first case is a generic study and serves to provide general results independent of specific type of tube circuitry. The second and third cases are standard tube circuitry designs and these results are thus tube circuitry specific. In addition, a novel method of compensating flow maldistribution is analyzed, i.e. the discontinuous liquid injection principle. The method is based upon the recently developed EcoFlowTM valve by Danfoss A/S, and controls the individual channel superheat by distributing individual mass flow rate discontinuously (on/off injection). The results in this thesis show that flow maldistribution decreases system performance in terms of cooling capacity and COP, but may be compensated significantly by control of individual channel superheat. The generic study (two straight channels) shows that the airflow maldistribution has the largest effect, whereas the liquid/vapor maldistribution has smaller effect and the different feeder tube bending has a minor effect on system performance. The comparison between the face split and interlaced circuitry shows that the face split evaporator performs better at uniform flow conditions, whereas the interlaced evaporator performs better at flow maldistribution conditions. When compensating, the face split evaporator always performs best. A similar result is also obtained as the airflow profile across the A-coil evaporator was predicted by means of CFD simulation software STAR-CD 3.26 (2005) and applied in the numerical model. The main reason for the better face split evaporator performance at uniform conditions or when compensating, is that the superheated "weak" zones with low UA-value is located in the first tube row, where the heat transfer driving potential (temperature difference) is highest. The discontinuous liquid injection principle showed that the cycle time is an important parameter for the performance of this compensation method. The cycle time is essentially the time it takes for distributing mass flow to each evaporator channels. It should be kept as low as possible. Furthermore, it is better to use a partial secondary flow into the remaining channels while distributing the main flow to each individual channel. The discontinuous liquid injection simulations showed spurious fluctuations in pressure, which have not been observed as high in any experiments carried out at Danfoss with high enough sampling frequency. It is believed that the absence of the interfacial dynamics in the mixture model and the use of correlations developed from steady state experiments may be the reasons for these fluctuations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
    Number of pages225
    ISBN (Print)978-87-90416-60-7
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
    SeriesDCAMM Special Report


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