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Ser.B, 2007,19(6):677-682



SHAO Li , HAN Ji-tian

School of Energy and Power Engineering, Shandong University, Jinan 250061, China,
SU Guo-ping
School of Vehicle and Energy, Yanshan University, Qinhuangdao 066004, China
PAN Ji-hong
School of Energy and Power Engineering, Shandong University, Jinan 250061, China

(Received June 27, 2006; Revised September 30, 2006)

ABSTRACT: This article presents an experimental air-conditioning industry is now in the process of
investigation on condensation heat transfer of R-134a in evaluating and introducing new refrigerants as
horizontal straight and helically coiled tube-in-tube heat replacements to CFCs and HCFCs. Among
exchangers. The experiments were carried out at three substitutes for R12 and R22, the R-134a is one of
saturation temperatures(35 ℃ , 40 ℃ and 45 ℃ ) with the
the most promising candidates. So the condensation
refrigerant mass flux varying from 100 kg/m2 s to 400 kg/m2 s
and the vapor quality ranging from 0.1 to 0.8. The effects of
and boiling heat transfer data and correlations of
vapor quality and mass flux of R-134a on the condensation heat R-134a are important in the effective design and
transfer coefficient were investigated. The results indicate that reliable operation of new systems and equipment
the condensation heat transfer coefficients of the helical section and the retrofit of existing systems using R-134a as
are 4%-13.8% higher than that of the straight section. The the working fluid. Helical pipes have been widely
experimental results were compared with the data available in used in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat
literature for helical and straight pipes. pump systems due to their high efficiency in heat
transfer and compactness in volume. Therefore, it is
KEY WORDS: R-134a, helically coiled tube, two-phase heat of practical significance to investigate heat transfer
characteristics of R-134a in helical pipe to achieve
optimal design and operating performance of the
helical pipe heat exchangers.
Many experimental studies have been carried
As is well known, refrigerants from the group
out for two-phase heat transfer of R-134a in the
of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro-
straight smooth and enhanced surfaces tubes [1-6],
chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) have a destructive
but less data have been obtained for that in helical
influence on the ozone layer and essentially
pipes [7-11]. Therefore, the primary objective of this
contribute to the extension of the green-house effect.
article is to investigate experimentally the
In response to the Montreal Protocol and
condensation heat transfer coefficients of R-134a in
consequent regulations, the refrigeration and

* Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 50376030).
Biography: Shao Li (1967-), Female, Master, Associate Professor

Fig.1 Schematic of test facilities

the helical pipe (also in the straight tube). The through the pipe to the boiler. The cooling water
obtained results for the helical pipe are compared was introduced from a chilled water pipeline
with those for the straight tube. through a pump to the shell side of the test section.
The cooling water flow was adjusted by the bypass
and the rate of the cooling water was measured with
2. EXPERIMENTAL SYSTEM a flow meter.
The test system employed for investigating the The temperatures were measured at different
condensation heat transfer of R-134a in helical locations for the refrigerant and cooling-water
pipes and straight tubes is schematically shown in flows. A high-precision differential pressure meter
Fig.1. The test system consists of two loops (a was used to determine the pressure drops across the
refrigerant flow loop, a cooling–water loop) and a test section. All the readings were collected by the
data acquisition system. The refrigerant R-134a data acquisition system and stored for further data
and the cooling-water flow in counter directions reduction. The locations for measuring the
inside the inner helical tube and along the shell side temperature, pressure, and pressure drop are shown
of the helical pipe, respectively. The R-134a was in Fig.1. The entire test section was insulated
pumped from a storage tank into a boiler, where thermally from ambient by a glass fiber blanket. In
automatically temperature-controlled electric addition, in order to observe the flow pattern, tow
heaters were used to heat the refrigerant from liquid sight glass windows were installed at the inlet and
to vapor. Then the vapor was heated in a the outlet of the test section.
super-heater to maintain the saturation temperature The test Section 1 is shown in Fig.2. The coil
corresponding to the system pressure during the test diameter is 177.8 mm, and the pitch of the helical
by controlling the heating input to the vapor stream. pipe is 34.9 mm. The outer and the inner diameters
The superheated vapor was partially condensed in a of the inner tube are 12.7 mm and 9.4 mm,
pre-condenser to achieve the set quality at the inlet respectively, while the inner diameter of the outer
of test section. A post-condenser was used to cool tube is 21.2 mm. The test Section 2 is a straight
down the refrigerant from the exit of the test section. tube-in-tube heat exchanger, and the outer and inner
After the refrigerant was fully cooled down to its diameters of its inner tube are 12.6 mm and 9.2 mm,
liquid state, the sub-cooled R-134a was pumped respectively, while the inner diameter of its outer
with a positive displacement pump into the storage tube is 21 mm. The inlet and outlet temperature of
tank to complete a refrigerant loop. A bypass was both the refrigerant and cooling water were
installed around the pump to adjust the flow measured using sheathed thermocouples.

⎡ ⎛ d0 ⎞ ⎤
d ln ⎜⎜ ⎟⎟
A0 ⎢ 1 1 0
⎝ di ⎠ ⎥
hi = ⎢ − − ⎥ (1)
Ai ⎢U 0 h0 2k w ⎥
⎣ ⎦

The average annulus heat transfer coefficient

for water flowing h0 was calculated from an
experimentally determined calibration equation
obtained by using a modified Wilson plot technique
[12 ]
The overall heat transfer coefficient based on
Fig.2 Test Section 1 (helical pipe) the outside area of the inner tube was defined by the
After the test system had been thoroughly
inspected for leakage and non-condensable gases Q0
U0 = (2)
had been removed from the refrigerant loop by a A0 ΔTLMTD
vacuum pump, the R-134a was charged into the test
system. Before installation, all the thermocouples
where ΔTLMTD is the logarithm mean temperature
(T-type) were carefully calibrated against a
precision thermometer with an accuracy of difference between the water and refrigerant
±0.05℃. After the thermocouples had been onto defined as
the insulated test section, they were calibrated again
in situation at five fixed temperatures between 20℃
(tsat −tin )−(tsat −tout ) (3)
⎡ t −t ⎤
and 60℃. The flow meters and the pressure gauges ln ⎢ sat in ⎥
⎢ tsat −tout ⎥
were also calibrated. ⎣ ⎦
During the test, the heat balance between the
heat released by the refrigerant and the heat where tsat is the saturation temperature of R-134a
absorbed by the cooling-water flow was calculated obtained from the average of the refrigerant bulk
to verify that the system had reached the temperature at the inlet and outlet of the
steady-state condition. The amount of water-side
condensation test section, tin and tout are the
heat transfer measurement was used as the basis for
the data reduction due to its reliability. After the inlet and outlet temperatures of the cooling water,
steady-state conditions had been achieved in the test respectively.
system, the readings for the temperature, flow rate, The amount of heat transferred from R-134a to
and pressures were taken 10 times. A computer cooling water, Q0 , was determined by a simple
program was developed to check if the steady-state energy balance equation as follows:
condition was realized by monitoring the
temperature variations in the test system. Once the Q0 = qvw ρ wC pw (Tout − Tin ) (4)
obtained readings were examined by checking the
averages and standard deviations, the arithmetic
mean values of those data were used in the data where qvw , ρ w , C pw are the volume flow rate,
reduction to obtain the heat transfer coefficient. density and specific heat of the cooling water,
respectively. The average vapor quality for the test
section is defined as
By assuming that the fouling effect is xin + xout
negligible, the average heat transfer coefficients can x= (5)
be calculated using the following definition of the 2
overall heat transfer coefficient:

where xin and xout are the vapor qualities of the vapor quality range 0.1-0.8.
R-134a at the inlet and exit of the test sections, The average heat transfer coefficients as a
respectively, which can be calculated from energy function of R-134a mass flux for the straight and
balance on the pre-condenser and the test condenser helically coiled tube-in-tube sections are shown in
respectively, the physical properties of R-134a are Fig.3. The average heat transfer coefficients
obtained from the REFPROP Version 6.0[13]. increase with the mass flux of R-134a for both the
The steady-state conditions for the test system straight and helical sections and the effect of the
are determined by checking the thermal balance saturation temperatures on the average heat transfer
between the released heat from R-134a and the heat coefficient can also be clearly observed in Fig.3.
absorbed by the cooling water. The heat released The similar experimental results for the average
from R-134a can be determined by the equation heat flux of R-134a inside the straight and helical
pipes were presented in Refs. [1,3,11]. It can also
be demonstrated that the average heat transfer
Q f = m f Δh (6)
coefficient for the helical section is higher than that
for the straight section. The enhancement factor of
where Q f , m f and Δh denote the released heat, the average heat transfer coefficient is given for the
mass flow rate, and enthalpy drop of R-134a across helical section in comparison to the straight section
the test section, respectively. in Fig.4.
The criterion used for the stead-state condition
during the test is given as

Qf − Q
≤ 5% (7)

where Qave is the average value of heat exchanged

between R-134a and the cooling water and is
determined by the relation

Qave =
(Q f + Q ) (8)

Fig.3 Average heat flux versus mass low of R-134a

An experimental uncertainty analysis for this
study has been conducted based on the data
deduction equations using the error-propagation
method recommended by Moffat [14]. According to
the specifications of the measurement instruments,
the uncertainty of refrigerant mass flow rate is
about ±1 percent, and the cooling-water volume
flow rate uncertainty is ±2 percent. The uncertainty
of temperature difference is ±0.2℃. The uncertainty
analysis indicates that the uncertainties of the
overall, water side, and refrigerant side heat transfer
coefficients are ±9.46%, ±5.0%, and ±15.5%,
Fig.4 Enhancement factor versus mass flow of R-134a
4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The average heat transfer enhancement factor is
The condensation tests were carried out with defined as a ratio of the average heat transfer
R-134a flowing in the inner tube at the saturated coefficient of the helical section to that of the
temperatures 35℃, 40℃and 45℃, the mass flux straight section obtained under the same condition.
varying from 100 kg/m2 s to 400 kg/m2 s and over Figures 3 and 4 indicate that, the heat transfer

enhancement factor decrease with the increase in R-134a for the straight sections. The results show
the mass flux in the test. It can also be seen that the that the average heat transfer coefficient increases
enhancement factors are almost independent of the with the vapor quality. The similar experimental
saturation. results for the helical section are obtained and
compared with the results of the straight section in
Fig.6. It can be seen that the average heat transfer
coefficient of the helical section is higher than that
of the straight section. The enhancement factors of
the average heat transfer coefficient are given for
the helical section in comparison to the straight
section in Fig.7.

The experimental investigation has been
conducted into the condensation heat transfer in a
horizontal straight and a helically coiled
tube-in-tube heat exchangers. The experiments have
Fig.5 Average heat transfer coefficient versus vapor quality been performed at the saturation temperatures
of 35℃, 40℃ and 45℃, the mass flux varying
from 100 kg/m2s to 400 kg/m2s and the vapor
quality ranging from 0.1 to 0.8. The results show
that the average heat transfer coefficients for both
the straight and helical sections increase with the
mass flux of R-134a and the vapor quality as well.
The average heat transfer coefficient for the helical
section is 4%-13.8% higher than that for the straight
section. The results are of practical significance to
investigate heat transfer characteristics of R-134a in
helical pipes to achieve optimal design and
operating performance of the helical pipe heat
exchangers. Further investigations are needed with
Fig.6 Average heat transfer coefficient versus vapor quality a wider geometric parameter range and to study the
effects of geometric parameters of the helical pipes.

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