Refrigerant Charge Management and Control for Next-Generation Aircraft Vapor Compression Systems
Vapor compression systems (VCS) offer significant benefits as the backbone for next generation aircraft thermal management systems (TMS). For a comparable lift, VCS offer higher system efficiencies, improved load temperature control, and lower transport losses than conventional air cycle systems. However, broad proliferation of VCS for many aircraft applications has been limited primarily due to maintenance and reliability concerns. In an attempt to address these and other VCS system control issues, the Air Force Research Laboratory has established a Vapor Cycle System Research Facility (VCSRF) to explore the practical application of dynamic VCS control methods for next-generation, military aircraft TMS. The total refrigerant mass contained within the closed refrigeration system (refrigerant charge) is a critical parameter to VCS operational readiness. Too much or too little refrigerant can be detrimental to system performance.