Condensation Heat Transfer Of R-134A On Micro-Finned Tubes : An Experimental Study
Eco-friendly non-CFC refrigerants were introduced in the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration industry during the last few years to reduce damage to the stratospheric ozone layer. The HFC refrigerant R-134a, which has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), is being used extensively as a replacement for R-12 and also in some centrifugal chillers as a replacement for R-11. However, the disadvantage of R-134a is its comparatively high global warming potential (GWP). Owing to energy crisis and also to reduce the indirect warming impact resulting from electrical energy usage, the new refrigeration systems should be operated at the lowest possible condensing temperatures. In view of this, several active and passive techniques for augmentation of condensation heat transfer and reduction of condensation temperature are gaining increasing attention. Passive augmentation methods are more popular than active ones. To this end, micro-finned tubes of various geometrical shapes are being explored for compact heat exchangers in the refrigeration industry as the best choice. Towards understanding the enhancement in condensation heat transfer coefficients in micro-finned tubes, a test facility has been fabricated to measure the condensing coefficients for R-134a refrigerant. Condensation experiments have been conducted on single plain and finned tubes of outer diameter 19 mm with a refrigerant saturation temperature of 400C and tube wall temperatures 350C, 320C, 300C and 280C respectively. Water is used as the cooling medium inside the tubes with the flow rate varying from 180 lph to 600 lph. The condensing coefficient typically ranged from 0.9 – 1.4 kW/(m2 K) for plain tubes and from 4.2 to 5.8 kW/(m2 K) for the finned tubes. The results of the plain v tube are found to compare favourably with the Nusselt’s theory, leading to a validation of the experimental procedure. Upon comparing the results of finned and plain tubes, it is found that provision of fins result in an enhancement factor of 3.6 to 4.6 in the condensation heat transfer coefficients. This level of enhancement is larger than that resulting from the enhanced surface area of the finned tube surface, suggesting that, apart from the extended area, the surface tension forces play an important role in the augmentation process by driving the condensate from the fin crests to the valleys in between the fins. The measured augmentation factors have also been cross-checked using the Wilson plot method. Detailed error analysis has been performed to quantify the uncertainty in the condensation heat transfer coefficient. The performance of a bank of tubes has been determined based on the measurements carried out on practical condensers of two large chillers with refrigerating capacities of 500 TR and 550 TR. On comparing the finned tube bank results and the single finned tube results, it is found that the average condensation heat transfer coefficient in a bank of tubes having N rows varies as N ¯1/6. The deterioration is in agreement with the relation proposed by Kern.