Journal article

Visualization of R-134a Flowing on Tube Arrays with Plain and Enhanced Surfaces under Adiabatic and Condensing Conditions

Experimental studies were performed to investigate the flow patterns of liquid films of R-134a on vertical arrays of horizontal tubes under adiabatic test conditions at room temperature and during condensation at a saturation temperature of 304 K. Three arrays with tube pitches of 25.5, 28.6, and 44.5 mm and up to ten tubes of four commercially available copper tubes with a nominal diameter of 19.05 mm and 544 mm in length were tested: a plain tube, a 26 fpi/1024 fpm low finned tube (Turbo-Chil), and two tubes with three-dimensional enhanced surface structures (Turbo-CSL and Gewa-C). Flow pattern observations and transitions were obtained and compared to existing flow pattern maps. The effect of the flow pattern on heat transfer was also investigated. The ideal flow modes (droplet, column, and sheet) could strictly be observed on the tubes with 3D enhanced surface structures. On the low-finned tube and the plain tube, the flow was very unstable, causing a part of liquid to leave the array sideways. For the 3D enhanced tubes, a difference in the formation of the sheets could be seen. The Gewa-C tube tended to form small sheets, while the Turbo-CSL formed large sheets at low film Reynolds numbers. A cyclic forward and backward motion of the sheet was observed that increased in amplitude with an increasing film Reynolds number. At high film Reynolds numbers, part of the liquid left the array of tubes sideways due to this oscillation, the effect of which on heat transfer was found to be more significant than the effect of the flow modes themselves.


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