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Heat transfer enhancement during condensation in smooth tubes with helical wire inserts

D.Ing. (Mechanical Engineering) / In the past two decades the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump industries began the conversion from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and to natural refrigerants. This changeover not only involves redesigning, re-optimizing and re-testing all new original equipment but also involves retrofitting many large existing systems. Combining this process with the goal of developing more accurate design methods and more energy-efficient cycles, heat transfer and, specifically, heat transfer enhancement, has become a very active research field and will probably continue to boom in the next decades as the HCFCs are also phased out of use. The most prominent alternative refrigerants are R134a and R407C to replace the present market dominating refrigerant R22. Many heat transfer enhanced techniques have simultaneously been developed for the improvement of energy consumption, material saving, size reduction and pumping power reduction. Helical wire inserts in tubes are a typical technique that offers a higher heat transfer increase and, at the same time, only a mild pressure drop penalty. This study investigates the heat transfer characteristics of a horizontal tube-in-tube heat exchanger with a helical wire inserted in the inner tube. The influence of the pitch (or helix angle) of such geometry on the heat transfer performance and pressure drop during condensation (having all other geometric parameters the same) was investigated experimentally. Firstly, three refrigerants were tested in three helical wire-inserted tubes with different pitches of 5, 7.77 and 11 mm. The local and average heat transfer coefficients, and semi-local and average pressure drops were studied systematically. The experimental results were compared not only with the referenced experimental data of the smooth tubes, but also with the results of micro-fin tubes. The heat transfer enhancement factors, pressure drop loss penalty factors and overall efficiencies of the tested condensers with helical wire-inserted geometry were calculated. The tube with a helical wire pitch of 5 mm inserts was found to have the highest enhancement factor and overall efficiency. Secondly, the heat transfer enhancement mechanism was studied and explained. It was found that the extension of the annular flow regime contributed mainly to this enhancement. The transitional qualities from annular flow to intermittent flow were derived and incorporated in a flow regime map. Thirdly, heat transfer coefficient and pressure drop correlations for this special heat transfer enhancement geometry were deduced, and they predicted the experiment data to within 80% and 78% respectively, within a deviation of  20%. Finally, the water flowing through helical wire-inserted tubes (glass) was demonstrated, providing a visual understanding of the heat transfer enhancement mechanism. / Prof. J.P. Meyer Prof. L. Liebenberg
Date17 July 2008
CreatorsJi, Tianfu
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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