Contribution to the heat transfer analysis of natural and substitute refrigerants evaporated in a horizontal tube

The substitution of CFC refrigerants in refrigeration systems, heat pumps and organic Rankine cycles, requests a good knowledge of the heat transfer and pressure drop properties of substitute fluids. A contribution to this international effort is proposed with the study of two hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFC-134a and the zeotropic mixture HFC-407C) and the study of the natural refrigerant ammonia. The HFCs have been experimentally tested on the first test rig developed in the Laboratory of Industrial Energy Systems (LENI) which was substantially modified to cope with ammonia, both in terms of safety requirements and operational conditions. The experimental test section is composed of two concentric tubes, with in tube evaporation of the refrigerant inside the inner tube of counter-current Annular water heating. A new database of the local heat transfer coefficients for the refrigerants HFC-134a, HFC-407C and ammonia together with pressure drop measurements has been collected and used to define and calibrate a new and more general heat transfer model. The two HFC refrigerants have been tested on the test rig developed by Kattan [36]; due to the chemical and the thermophysical properties of ammonia, a new test rig has been designed for the ammonia tests and a new calculation procedure based on the mean temperature measurement on the tube wall has been used. The experimental database covers evaporation tests on plain and on microfin tubes, and with nominal oil concentrations varying from 0 to 5 [%] (by wt.). Detailed modeling is concentrated on the tests on plain tube without oil. Each of the three refrigerants has been evaporated at 4[°C]. The other experimental conditions for the HFCs refrigerants were an inside tube diameter of 10.92[mm], a heat flux range of 2 – 5 [kW/m2] and three mass velocities of G = 100, 200, 300 [kg/(m2s)] visualized as Stratified-Wavy flows (G = 100[kg/(m2s)]), and mainly Annular for the higher mass velocities (G = 200, 300[kg/(m2s)]). The other global conditions for ammonia were an internal tube diameter of 14.00 [mm], a heat flux range of 5 – 70[kW/m2] and eleven mass velocities of G = 10,20,30,40,45,50,55,60,80,120,140[kg/(m2s)], corresponding to Stratified, Stratified-Wavy, Intermittent and Annular flow patterns; complementary tests, varying the mass velocity at constant vapor qualities (x = 20,50,80[%]), have been made in particular to better characterize boundaries between flow patterns. The flow patterns are visualized through glass sections at both ends of the 3.1 [m] long test tube. An extensive review of void fraction models with sensitivity analysis on the actual available flow pattern map has been made. From the 17 correlations reviewed, the models of Taitel-Dukler [71] and Rouhani [79] have been used. Other improvements to the threshold criteria of the Stratified-Wavy to Annular transition, lead to an accurate diabatic map to predict the flow patterns and their transition for very different families of fluids like HFC's and ammonia. A new approach in the prediction of two-phase flow heat transfer has been proposed through the study of each flow pattern separately, according to a new criterion defining the onset of nucleate boiling as a function of the critical convective heat transfer coefficient representative of the location where nucleate boiling might occur. A function based on a pseudo Biot number allows, from the mean heat flux around the tube periphery, to base the model on two different mean heat fluxes applied respectively to the parts of the perimeter in contact with the liquid and the vapor in stratified types of flow. Considering pure convective heat transfer, or mixed convective and nucleate heat transfer, this division allows the use of a common criterion to be applied to each flow pattern. The two-phase flow heat transfer coefficient has finally been obtained as a weighted mean function of the vapor and the liquid heat transfer coefficient with respect to their contact surface with the heated tube. Based on the database of refrigerants HFC-134a and ammonia, the standard deviation of the new heat transfer model is of σ = 27.9[%]. Even if the database showed that the flow conditions were close to, or in the turbulent to laminar flow transition, and even if the major part of the experimental points were purposely obtained close to the various flow pattern transitions, the new model showed very good agreement with the experimental database. Due to the precision of the new flow pattern map and the effectiveness of the onset on nucleate boiling criterion, this new heat transfer model accurately predicts the heat transfer conditions during evaporation. Finally, a new method to model separated flows is proposed, based on partial hydraulic diameters and a mean interface velocity.


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