Development of an advanced heat exchanger model for steady state and frosting conditions
Air-to-refrigerant fin-and-tube heat exchangers are a key component in the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry. Considering their dominance, the industry has focused immensely on employing computer modeling in their design and development. Recently, advances in manufacturing capabilities, heat exchanger technology coupled with the move towards new environment-friendly refrigerants provide unprecedented challenges for designers and opportunities for researchers. In addition, the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has assumed a greater role in the design of heat exchangers.
This research presents the development of an advanced heat exchanger model and design tool which aims to provide greater accuracy, design flexibility and unparalleled capabilities compared to existing heat exchanger models. The heat exchanger model developed here achieves the following. (1) Account for tube-to-tube conduction along fins, which is known to degrade the performance of heat exchangers, especially in carbon dioxide gas coolers.
(2) Study and develop heat exchangers with arbitrary fin sheets, which meet performance as well as packaging goals with minimal consumption of resources (3) Allow engineers to integrate CFD results for air flow through a heat exchanger, which the modeling tool employs to develop its air propagation sequence leading to improved accuracy over existing models which assume normal air flow propagation (4) Function in a quasi-steady state mode for the purpose of simulating frost accumulation and growth on heat exchangers, and completely simulate local heat transfer degradation, as well as blockage of flow passage on air side.
Additionally, the heat exchanger model was used to investigate gains that are enabled due to the presence of cut fins in carbon dioxide gas coolers and develop design guidelines for engineers. Finally, this dissertation analyzes the implications of minimum entropy generation on heat exchanger performance criteria of heat capacity and pressure drop, as well as evaluates the ability of entropy generation minimization as a design objective. This also serves as the first step toward an expert knowledge-based system for guiding engineers towards better designs, during the process of heat exchanger design.