Tube-Fin heat exchanger, Brazed joint, Contact resistance, Fin effectiveness
The energy consumption due to air conditioning is projected to increase by 1.3 and 4.5 times by 2050 compared to 2010 for members and non-members of the Organization of Economic Coordination and Development (OECD), respectively. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions must be carefully managed to minimize their hazardous contribution to climate change. Air conditioners (AC) and heat pumps (HP) contribute with direct GHG emissions through systemic refrigerant leakage, which consequently degrades the system’s performance and therefore increases its indirect GHG emissions as well. To address this issue, the goals of new systems include minimizing leakage risk, using low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants such as natural refrigerants, and increasing system efficiency. This paper presents part of the efforts in the development of a brazed “dogbone” fin to continuous serpentine tube heat exchanger (HX) for AC/HP applications. The main advantages of such technology are: 1) The potential to reduce 90% or more of the tube return-bends brazed joints compared to conventional tube-fin heat exchangers, thus minimizing leakage vulnerability, enabling the use of natural refrigerants like Propane and Ammonia that carry other concerning risks of flammability and toxicity ; and 2) The brazed fin to the tube joints should yield very low contact resistance. In order to quantify and estimate the impacts of contact resistance and fin effectiveness, a numerical-experimental study is investigated. The novel enhanced brazed “dog-bone” fin is compared to an equivalent pressure expanded fin. The results showed that the expanded fin has consistently greater effective heat transfer but greater contact resistance as well. Furthermore, the brazed fins have up to 20% lower pressure drop. The trade-off comparison shows that the thermal-hydraulic ratio between the two fins is equivalent for air velocities below 2m/s; for greater velocities, however, the expanded fin is favored since it has less fin efficiency penalty. For HVAC&R applications, the air velocities are typically low which makes the proposed technology competitive and a viable option in the pursuit of refrigerant leakage reduction.