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Journal Article

An Experimentally Validated Model for Predicting Refrigerant and Lubricant Inventory in MAC Heat Exchangers

The paper presents a semi-empirical model to predict refrigerant and lubricant inventory in both evaporator and condenser of an automotive air conditioning (MAC) system. In the model, heat exchanger is discretized into small volumes. Temperature, pressure and mass inventory are calculated by applying heat transfer, pressure drop and void fraction correlations to these volumes respectively. Refrigerant and lubricant are treated as a zeotropic mixture with a temperature glide. As refrigerant evaporates or condenses, thermophysical properties are evaluated accordingly with the change of lubricant concentration. Experimental data is used to validate the model. As a result, refrigerant and lubricant mass is predicted within 20% in the evaporator. However, in the condenser, lubricant mass was consistently under-predicted while refrigerant mass was predicted within 15% error. Moreover, the lubricant under-prediction becomes more significant at higher Oil Circulation Ratio (OCR).
Technical Paper

Effect of Flow Regime in the Horizontal Inlet Header on Refrigerant-Oil Mixture Distribution in a MAC Microchannel Evaporator

The effect of lubricant on distribution is investigated by relating the flow regime in the horizontal inlet header and the corresponding infrared image of the evaporator. Visualization of the flow regime is performed by high-speed camera. R134a is used as the refrigerant with PAG 46 as lubricant, forming foam in all flow regimes. Quantitative information including foam location, foam layer thickness is obtained using a matlab-based video processing program. Oil circulation rate effect on flow regime is analyzed quantitatively.
Technical Paper

Lubricant Effect on Performance of R134a MAC Microchannel Evaporators

This paper presents an experimental study of lubricant effect on the performance of microchannel evaporators in a typical MAC system. R134a is used as the refrigerant with PAG46 lubricant. The increase of oil circulation rate elevates the pressure drop of the evaporator. The specific enthalpy change in evaporator decreases with increasing oil circulation rate, while refrigerant distribution appears to be more uniform as indicated by infrared images of the evaporator surface temperatures. Thus mass flow rate increases.
Technical Paper

Lubricant Impact on R134a Distribution and Microchannel Heat Exchanger Performance

Lubricant in compressor usually flows out with refrigerant. Thus, it is evitable for lubricant to be present in the heat exchanger, which significantly affects the heat exchanger performance. This paper is to investigate the effects of PAG oil on R134a distribution in the microchannel heat exchanger (MCHX) with vertical headers and to provide a tool to model R134a (with oil) distribution and its effects on MCHX capacity. The flow configuration in MCHX under the heat pump mode of the reversible system is mimicked in the experimental facility: refrigerant-oil mixture is fed into the test header from the bottom pass and exits through the top pass. It is found that a small amount of oil (OCR=0.5%) worsen the distribution. But further increasing OCR to 2.5% and 4.7%, the distribution becomes better.