Void fraction, pressure drop, and heat transfer in high pressure condensing flows through microchannels

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Keinath, Brendon Louis
Garimella, Srinivas
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Flow mechanisms affect transport processes during condensation. Most studies on two-phase flow regimes are qualitative in nature, typically providing only information to guide the identification of the respective regimes and the transitions between them. These studies have, however, not yielded quantitative information to assist the development of pressure drop and heat transfer models. Such qualitative studies have also yielded results with considerable variability between investigators. A comprehensive investigation of flow mechanisms, void fraction, pressure drop and heat transfer during condensation of R404A in microchannels was conducted. In contrast to all prior investigations, high-speed video recordings and image analyses were used to directly measure void fraction, slug frequencies, vapor bubble velocity, vapor bubble dimensions and liquid film thicknesses in tube diameters ranging from 0.508 to 3.00 mm. Experiments were conducted at reduced pressures and mass fluxes ranging from 0.38 to 0.77 and 200 to 800 kg m-2 s-1, respectively, to document their influences on the condensation process at local vapor qualities ranging from 0 to 1. This information was used to develop a model for the void fraction in condensing flows. A complementing set of heat transfer and pressure drop measurements were conducted on the same geometries at similar conditions, and the void fraction model was used in conjunction with these measurements to develop improved heat transfer and pressure drop models. This comprehensive set of experiments and analyses yields a self-consistent and accurate treatment of high-pressure condensation in small hydraulic diameter geometries. Furthermore, the heat transfer model was found to agree well with condensing ammonia and carbon dioxide data that were obtained at significantly different conditions in different tube diameters. The added physical understanding of the condensation process and the models developed will serve as important building blocks for the design of microscale condensers and thermal systems.
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