Expansion Energy Recovery, Flash Tank, Control
In light of recent trends towards energy efficiency and environmental consciousness, the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) industry has been pushing for technological developments to meet both of these needs. As such, several solutions for harnessing the energy released from refrigerants during the expansion process of a conventional vapor-compression cycle have been developed to increase overall cycle efficiency. The study presented in this paper focuses on investigating the potential impact of installing an energy recovery expansion device known as the Viper Expander into an R410A heat pump. The Viper Expander operates by using a nozzle to accelerate the high pressure R410A into a high velocity jet of fluid impinging on a micro-turbine impeller. The impeller is coupled to a generator, which harvests the kinetic energy of the refrigerant by converting it into electrical energy that can be fed back into one of the system components, such as a fan or compressor motor. Previous Viper Expander iterations have not met performance expectations and thus, a major redesign was pursued. To improve the Viper Expander design, flow visualization of the two-phase refrigerant leaving the nozzle has been performed. Additionally, a housing redesign that will allow the Viper Expander to act as both an expansion work recovery device as well as a flash tank economizer has been proposed and modeled as a system solution.