Investigation of Two-phase Refrigerant Behavior Upon Cycle Startup for Compressor Protection in Microgravity Applications
Vapor compression cycle, two-phase refrigerant flow, micro-gravity, transient, start-up
Vapor compression cycles (VCCs) are a promising technology for refrigeration needs on future space craft due to their generally high cooling COP. However, due to microgravity there lies a risk of liquid flooding the compressor during start-up. Thus, to better prepare VCCs for microgravity applications, it is significant to understand the dependence of two-phase refrigerant on gravity during start-up. In this work, liquid flooding is evaluated at the start-up of a VCC and a possibility for passive compressor protection is considered. The experimental setup has two configurations. In the first, two-phase phenomena can be observed in a transparent tube and different tube insertions can be tested for their effectiveness as a liquid flooding obstruction. In the second configuration, liquid flooding from a commercial evaporator can be evaluated for different charge levels. The results show a clear effect of tube insertions on liquid flooding in a straight tube and find the felt tube insertion to be most effective at impeding flow. The evaporator test results also present a strong correlation of liquid flooding parameters with the charge level and show only a small dependence on the orientation of the evaporator.