Flow boiling heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics of R134a, R1234yf and R1234ze in a plate heat exchanger for organic Rankine cycle units

Ji Zhang, Adriano Desideri, Martin Ryhl Kærn, Torben Schmidt Ommen, Jorrit Wronski, Fredrik Haglind

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The optimal design of the evaporator is one of the key issues to improve the efficiency and economics of organic Rankine cycle units. The first step in studying the evaporator design is to understand the thermal-hydraulic performance of the working fluid in the evaporator of organic Rankine cycles. This paper is aimed at obtaining flow boiling heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics in a plate heat exchanger under the working conditions prevailing in the evaporator of organic Rankine cycle units. Two hydrofluoroolefins R1234yf and R1234ze, and one hydrofluorocarbon R134a, were selected as the working fluids. The heat transfer coefficients and pressure drops of the three working fluids were measured with varying saturation temperatures, mass fluxes, heat fluxes and outlet vapour qualities, which range from 60°C to 80°C, 86 kg/m2 s to 137 kg/m2 s, 9.8 kW/m2 to 36.8 kW/m2 and 0.5 to 1, respectively. The working conditions covered relatively high saturation temperatures (corresponding reduced pressures of 0.35-0.74), which are prevailing in organic Rankine cycles yet absent in the open literature. The experimental data were compared with existing correlations, and new correlations were developed that are more suitable for evaporation in organic Rankine cycles. The experimental results indicate that heat transfer coefficients are strongly dependent upon the heat flux and saturation temperature. Moreover, the results suggest better thermal-hydraulic performance for R1234yf than the other two working fluids at the same saturation temperatures. With the new heat transfer and pressure drop correlations, agreements within ±25% were obtained for experimental data in similar experiments with high saturation temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Pages (from-to)1787-1801
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Flow boiling
  • HFO
  • High saturation temperature
  • Plate heat exchanger
  • Pressure drop

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