CFD Studies Of Pulse Tube Refrigerators
The performance evaluation and parametric studies of an Inertance Tube Pulse Tube Refrigerator (IPTR) are performed for different length-to-diameter ratios, with the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) package FLUENT. The integrated model consists of individual models of the components, namely, the compressor, compressor cooler, regenerator, cold heat exchanger, pulse tube, warm heat exchanger, inertance tube and the reservoir. The formulation consists of the governing equations expressing the conservation of mass, momentum and energy with axi-symmetry assumption and relations for the variable thermophysical properties of the working medium and the regenerator matrix, and friction factor and heat transfer coefficients in oscillatory flows. The local thermal non-equilibrium of the gas and the matrix is taken into account for the modeling of heat exchangers and the regenerator which are treated as porous zones. In addition, the wall thickness of the components is also accounted for. Dynamic meshing is used to model the compressor zone. The heat interaction between pulse tube wall and the oscillating gas, leading to surface heat pumping, is quantified. The axial heat conduction is found to reduce the overall performance. The thermal non-equilibrium results in a higher cold heat exchanger temperature due to inefficiencies. The dynamic characteristics of pulse tube are analyzed by introducing a time constant. The study is extended to other types of PTRs, namely, the Orifice type Pulse Tube Refrigerator (OPTR), Double Inlet type Pulse Tube Refrigerator (DIPTR) and a PTR with parallel combination of inertance tube and orifice (OIPTR). The focus of the second phase of analysis is the pulse tube region. The oscillatory flow and temperature fields in an open-ended pipe driven by a time-wise sinusoidally varying pressure at one end and subjected to an ambient-to-cryogenic temperature difference across the ends, is numerically studied both with and without the inclusion of buoyancy effects. Conjugate effects arising out of the interaction of oscillatory flow with heat conduction in the pipe wall are taken into account by considering a finite thickness wall with an insulated exterior surface. Parametric studies are conducted with frequencies in the range 5-15 Hz for an end-to-end temperature difference of 200 K. As the pressure amplitude increases, the temperature difference between the wall and the fluid decreases due to mixing at the cold end. The pressure amplitude and the frequency have negligible effect on the time averaged Nusselt number. The effect of buoyancy is studied for hot side up and cold side up configurations. It is found that the time averaged Nusselt number does not change significantly with orientation or Rayleigh number. Sharp changes in Nusselt number and velocity profiles and an increase in energy transfer through solid and gas were observed when natural convection comes into play with hot end placed down. Cooldown experiments are conducted on a preliminary experimental setup. Comparison of the numerical and experimental cooldown curves disclosed a number of areas where improvement is required, primarily the leakage past the piston and the design of the heat exchangers. The setup is being improved to bring out a second and improved version for attaining the lower cold heat exchanger temperature.
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