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Experimental and analytical investigation of refrigerant and lubricant migration

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Title: Experimental and analytical investigation of refrigerant and lubricant migration
Author(s): Peuker, Steffen
Director of Research: Hrnjak, Predrag S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Hrnjak, Predrag S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Bullard, Clark W.; Jones, Barclay G.; Kyritsis, Dimitrios C.; Newell, Ty A.
Department / Program: Mechanical Sci & Engineering
Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): refrigerant lubricant oil migration R134a automotive experimental techniques air conditioning transient cycling refrigerant mass distribution lubricant mass distribution Quick Closing Valve Technique mechanisms of refrigerant and lubricant migration
Abstract: The off-cycle refrigerant mass migration has a direct influence on the on-cycle performance since compressor energy is necessary to redistribute the refrigerant mass. No studies, as of today, are available in the open literature which experimentally measured the lubricant migration within a refrigeration system during cycling or stop/start transients. Therefore, experimental procedures measuring the refrigerant and lubricant migration through the major components of a refrigeration system during stop/start transients were developed and implemented. Results identifying the underlying physics are presented. The refrigerant and lubricant migration of an R134a automotive A/C system-utilizing a fixed orifice tube, minichannel condenser, plate and fin evaporator, U-tube type accumulator and fixed displacement compressor-was measured across five sections divided by ball valves. Using the Quick-Closing Valve Technique (QCVT) combined with the Remove and Weigh Technique (RWT) using liquid nitrogen as the condensing agent resulted in a measurement uncertainty of 0.4 percent regarding the total refrigerant mass in the system. The determination of the lubricant mass distribution was achieved by employing three different techniques-Remove and Weigh, Mix and Sample, and Flushing. To employ the Mix and Sample Technique a device-called the Mix and Sample Device-was built. A method to separate the refrigerant and lubricant was developed with an accuracy-after separation-of 0.04 grams of refrigerant left in the lubricant. When applying the three techniques, the total amount of lubricant mass in the system was determined to within two percent. The combination of measurement results-infrared photography and high speed and real time videography-provide unprecedented insight into the mechanisms of refrigerant and lubricant migration during stop-start operation. During the compressor stop period, the primary refrigerant mass migration is caused by, and follows, the diminishing pressure difference across the expansion device. The secondary refrigerant migration is caused by a pressure gradient as a result of thermal nonequilibrium within the system and causes only vapor phase refrigerant migration. Lubricant migration is proportional to the refrigerant mass during the primary refrigerant mass migration. During the secondary refrigerant mass migration lubricant is not migrating. The start-up refrigerant mass migration is caused by an imbalance of the refrigerant mass flow rates across the compressor and expansion device. The higher compressor refrigerant mass flow rate was a result of the entrainment of foam into the U-tube of the accumulator. The lubricant mass migration during the start-up was not proportional to the refrigerant mass migration. The presence of water condensate on the evaporator affected the refrigerant mass migration during the compressor stop period. Caused by an evaporative cooling effect the evaporator held 56 percent of the total refrigerant mass in the system after three minutes of compressor stop time-compared to 25 percent when no water condensate was present on the evaporator coil. Foam entrainment led to a faster lubricant and refrigerant mass migration out of the accumulator than liquid entrainment through the hole at the bottom of the U-tube. The latter was observed for when water condensate was present on the evaporator coil because-as a result of the higher amount of refrigerant mass in the evaporator before start-up-the entrainment of foam into the U-tube of the accumulator ceased before the steady state refrigerant mass distribution was reached.
Issue Date: 2011-01-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/18284
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Steffen Peuker
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-01-14
Date Deposited: December 2
 

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