Research Papers

Thermal Optimization Analysis and Performance Enhancement of Sequential Bundle of Vortex Tubes for Drilling Engineering Cooling Process

[+] Author and Article Information
Adib Bazgir

Department of Chemical Engineering,
Petroleum University of Technology,
Ahwaz 6818958688, Iran
e-mail: adib.bazgir@afp.put.ac.ir

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received June 4, 2018; final manuscript received August 20, 2018; published online October 26, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Sandra Boetcher.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 11(2), 021004 (Oct 26, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: TSEA-18-1291; doi: 10.1115/1.4041348 History: Received June 04, 2018; Revised August 20, 2018

The vortex tube is a mechanical device with no moving parts that can separate a compressed gas into a hot and a cold stream. Pressurized gas is injected tangentially into a swirl chamber and accelerated to a high rate of rotation. This gas motion creates a cold core and a hot shell. In certain engineering applications such as gas drilling, the use of a high flow-rate air with high pressure and low temperature can improve process efficiency. In these applications, demand for the cold air stream as high as 40 kg/s is not uncommon. In this paper, the use of a vortex tube bundle for generating this large flow-rate of the cold air stream is proposed and evaluated, using numerical simulations. A single commercially available vortex tube can only produce a cold air stream up to 0.008 kg/s. Thus, it will take 5000 such vortex tubes to reach the required flow rate of 40 kg/s. Space limitation, as well as assembly difficulty, makes such an approach unrealistic. The objective of this work is to design a custom-made vortex tube so that a minimum number of such tubes can be used to meet the performance requirement posted by these applications. In this study, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is used to analyze the flow field, temperature field, and pressure field, and to optimize the vortex tube parameters so that a specific set of desired output can be achieved to meet the application requirements.

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Fig. 1

Schematic drawing of a vortex tube operational mechanism

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Fig. 2

Schematic of the vortex tube

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Fig. 3

Grid-independent check

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Fig. 5

Vortex tube cross section of (a) velocity vector map and (b) contour distribution

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Fig. 6

Temperature distribution (contour)

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Fig. 7

Static pressure and total pressure distribution

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Fig. 8

Temperature distribution (path line)

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Fig. 9

Effect of inlet temperature on the temperature drop from the cold outlet

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Fig. 10

Effect of inlet temperature on the temperature increase from the hot outlet

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Fig. 11

Effect of inlet temperature on the flow rate of the cold stream

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Fig. 12

Effect of inlet pressure on the temperature drop at the cold exit

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Fig. 13

Effect of inlet pressure on temperature rise at the hot exit

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Fig. 14

Effect of inlet pressure on cold stream flow rate

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Fig. 15

Vortex tube temperature distribution

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Fig. 16

Vortex tube bundle optimization with cold exit orifice diameter and inlet pressure. The (inlet pressure, number of tubes) pair, (Pin, N), is marked on each data point along each curve of the same cold exit orifice diameter.

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Fig. 17

Mach (Ma) number distribution along the tube axis for different inlet pressures

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Fig. 18

Temperature distribution along the tube axis for different inlet pressures, showing nonmonotonic a variant with the inlet pressure, with Dc/D = 0.65

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Fig. 19

Different shapes of hot end outlet

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Fig. 20

The schematic flow pattern of the tube

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Fig. 22

Air drilling application

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Fig. 24

Convergence study

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Fig. 25

Drilling to 100 m depth

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Fig. 26

Drilling to 200 m depth

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Fig. 27

Drilling to 100 m depth with 4 °C/33 m vertical temperature gradient



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