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Research Papers

Experimental Characterization of Frost Growth on a Horizontal Plate Under Natural Convection

[+] Author and Article Information
S. Niroomand

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Saskatchewan,
57 Campus Drive,
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A9, Canada
e-mail: s.niroomand@usask.ca

M. T. Fauchoux, C. J. Simonson

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Saskatchewan,
57 Campus Drive,
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A9, Canada

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received March 15, 2018; final manuscript received July 12, 2018; published online October 24, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Pedro Mago.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 11(1), 011020 (Oct 24, 2018) (13 pages) Paper No: TSEA-18-1142; doi: 10.1115/1.4040989 History: Received March 15, 2018; Revised July 12, 2018

This paper presents an experimental study on frost formation on a plate under natural convection conditions. Frost thickness, mass, density, and surface roughness are measured during each test. Frost thickness and roughness are measured using an image processing technique. The effect of operating conditions (temperature of the plate, and temperature and relative humidity of the air) on the properties of frost is investigated. Frost surface roughness is quantified using two parameters: the average roughness and the skewness of the roughness, which can describe the frost layer shape. The surface roughness of the frost layer is considerably higher than the roughness of a flat plate, which should be considered in frosting studies. In this paper, it is shown that frost surface roughness is related to the frost layer shape, porosity and density. It is also found that the plate temperature affects the frost surface roughness significantly; as the plate temperature decreases, the frost layer has a high average roughness and negative skewness, which correspond to a highly porous, low density frost layer. Increasing the air humidity and air temperature affects the average surface roughness slightly but not skewness of the frost surface.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

The shape of ice crystals grown at different air temperatures: (a) needles, −6 °C, (b) dendrite, −13 °C, (c) dendrite, −13 °C, (d) sector plate, −17 °C, (e) double sector plate, −15 °C and (f) column, −18 °C [10]

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Fig. 2

Schematic of (a) the experimental setup showing the isothermal block test section containing six aluminum plates to measure frost mass, thickness, and surface temperature and (b) the two parts of the isothermal block

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Fig. 3

Temperature of the isothermal block during tests conducted at four different conditions (locations 1, 2, 3, and 4 are marked with open circles on the top view of the isothermal block in Fig. 2)

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Fig. 4

Photographs of the side view of the aluminum plate on top of the isothermal block with (a) no frost at the beginning of a test and (b) frost accumulation after 30 min of testing

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Fig. 5

The process used to determine the thickness of the frosted plate (δp + δf) at each point along the plate, starting with (a) an image from the side view of the frosted plate, (b) the converted binary image of (a), and then (c) the height of the frost surface and the base line (in mm)

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Fig. 6

Examples of frost surfaces with negative and positive Rsk values, for the same Ra value

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Fig. 7

Repeatability of (a) the mass measurement and (b) the thickness measurement for tests at the same operating conditions for air (Tair = 20 °C, RHair = 50% RH) and different plate temperature (Tp = −10, −21 °C). Each set of measurements were taken at the same time during the two experiments but are shown slightly offset to avoid the symbols from overlapping each other. The error bars represent the 95% uncertainty bounds in the measured variables. Error bars are not shown for the frost thickness because the uncertainty (±0.02 mm) is smaller than the symbols.

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Fig. 8

Comparison of frost thickness and the current work (Tair = 20 °C, RHair = 50% RH, Tp = −10 °C and −21 °C, and with results from the literature [29], and [44], where Tair = 20 °C, RHair = 50%, TP = −10 °C, Tair = 20 °C, RHair = 50%, TP = −21 °C, Tair = 17.5 °C, RHair = 42%, TP = −10.4 °C, and Tair = 23 °C, RHair = 61%, TP = −19 °C

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Fig. 9

Frost growth on the plate at (a) Tp = −21 °C and (b) Tp = −10 °C with Tair = 20 °C and RHair = 50% RH

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Fig. 10

The effect of plate temperature on (a) frost thickness, (b) mass, (c) density, (d) average frost roughness, and (e) skewness roughness with Tair = 20 °C and RHair = 50% RH (error bars are not shown for the frost thickness because the uncertainty (±0.02 mm) is smaller than the symbols)

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Fig. 11

Photographs showing the frost growth process with time for (a) RHair = 50% RH and (b) RHair = 30% RH, with Tp = −10 °C and Tair = 20 °C

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Fig. 12

The effect of air relative humidity on frost properties (a) frost thickness, (b) mass, (c) density, (d) average frost roughness, and (e) skewness roughness with Tair = 20 °C and Tp = −10 °C (error bars are not shown for the frost thickness because the uncertainty (0.02 mm) is smaller than the symbols)

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Fig. 13

Photographs showing the frost growth process when (a) Tair = 20 °C and (b) Tair = 15 °C with Tp = −10 °C and RHair = 50% RH

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Fig. 14

Effect of air temperature on frost properties (a) frost thickness, (b) mass, (c) density, (d) average frost roughness, and (e) skewness roughness with Tp = −10 °C, RHair = 50% RH (error bars are not shown for the frost thickness because the uncertainty (±0.02 mm) is smaller than the symbols)

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Fig. 15

Density of frost versus frost surface roughness

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Fig. 16

Thermal resistance circuit for a frost layer on a plate (neglecting the heat of phase change)

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Fig. 17

Temperature at the interface between the air and frost layer (Tf,s) as a function of time at two different plate temperatures

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