Research Papers

Numerical Modeling of Two-Phase Flow Distribution Inside Evaporator Headers

[+] Author and Article Information
Miad Yazdani, Abbas A. Alahyari, Hailing Wu, Thomas D. Radcliff

Thermal & Fluid Sciences Department,
United Technologies Research Center,
East Hartford, CT 06108

Manuscript received July 23, 2013; final manuscript received December 11, 2013; published online February 26, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Jovica R. Riznic.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 6(3), 031006 (Feb 26, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: TSEA-13-1120; doi: 10.1115/1.4026309 History: Received July 23, 2013; Revised December 11, 2013

Two-phase flow distribution inside evaporator headers has been a challenging problem for a long time and having a robust predictive tool could substantially alleviate the costs associated with experimentation with different concepts and configurations. The use of a two-phase CFD model to predict flow distribution inside the header and at the discharge ports is demonstrated in this paper. The numerical domain is comprised of an inlet pipe and a distributor tube representing the header with a series of discharge ports. The flow distribution was initially verified using an air–water experiment, where the two-phase modeling approach, mesh requirements, and discretization schemes were defined. Next, the model was used to predict distribution of R134a in a typical heat exchanger distributor. The flow distribution across the discharge ports was provided to a discretized correlation-based heat exchanger model to predict the temperature and quality distribution along the length of the heat exchanger. The resultant temperature distribution is validated against IR imaging results for various operating conditions and header orientations.

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Fig. 1

Schematic of discretization and energy balance calculation in the reduced-order correlation-based model

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Fig. 2

Flow-chart representation of the HX model algorithm

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Fig. 3

Schematic of 2D representation of HDRw header used for water/air header experiment (not to scale)

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Fig. 4

Schematic of the heat-exchanger testing facility

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Fig. 5

Evaporator operational space flow of gas and liquid velocities. Filled circles and squares correspond to desired and tested operating conditions.

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Fig. 6

Schematic of 3D representation of HDRref header used for heat-exchanger experiment (not to scale)

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Fig. 7

Summary of water flow-rate distribution among the header ports for different configurations

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Fig. 8

Comparison between CFD/HX integrated model and IR imaging results for HX with R-134a as working fluid: CFD prediction of port flow-rate distribution (left), HX model prediction of HX temperature distribution (middle), and IR imaging of front face of HX (right). The right axis on the middle figure corresponds to level of discretization in HX model.

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Fig. 9

Instantaneous liquid distribution inside the HDRref for different port orientations; from top to bottom: 0 deg, 45 deg, and 90 deg

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Fig. 10

Normalized capacity calculation from the CFD/HX integrated model and its comparison against experiment's measured capacity for different header configurations




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