Scientific Publications

Analysis of the Performance of the Evaporator of Automotive Air Conditioning System


The purpose of this research was to establish a theoretical model for the evaporator of automotive air conditioning system and conducting simulations to evaluate the effect of operation parameters, environmental conditions, and design parameters on the performance of evaporator. An automotive air conditioning system primarily consists of four components: the compressor, the condenser, the refrigerant controller, and the evaporator. The refrigerant flow in the evaporator can be divided into two regions: the evaporating region and the superheat region. The refrigerant in the first region is a two-phase flow, while the refrigerant in the latter region is in the state of superheated vapor. The air flowing through the interior of the evaporator can also be divided into two zones: the unsaturated zone and the saturated zone. Water vapor is condensed in the saturated zone while in the unsaturated zone, no water condenses. Because the refrigerant flow and the airflow are perpendicular to each other, the distribution of refrigerant in the evaporating region and the superheat region does not coincide with the distribution of air in the unsaturated zone and the saturated zone. This study examines the effects of different design parameters, environmental conditions and operating parameters on the cooling capacity and superheat of an air conditioning system. Design parameters include the length of the refrigerant channel, the length of the air channel, and the thickness of the fins. Environmental conditions include the air inlet temperature and absolute humidity. Operation conditions include the refrigerant inlet enthalpy, inlet air flow rate, and refrigerant mass flow rate. Results of simulation demonstrated that fins with 50 micron meters width has the greatest cooling capacity for identical outer dimensions; thicker or thinner fins only decreased cooling capacity. Under different outer dimensions, longer refrigerant tubes and air channels created a greater cooling capacity. However, the increase in cooling capacity becomes less and less if the refrigerant flow was fixed because the heat transfer capability of the gaseous refrigerant was limited. In this study, an increase of 19% in cooling capacity can be reached as the length of refrigerant channels was increased, and the increased length of the air channels can promote the cooling capacity by 22%. Besides, it was found in this study that a decrease in the refrigerant inlet enthalpy, the inlet air flow rate, the air inlet temperature, and the inlet absolute humidity, or an increase in the refrigerant mass flow rate, would extend the superheat region and decrease the refrigerant’s superheat. It was also found that the cooling capacity of air conditioners is extremely sensitive to changes in the refrigerant mass flow rate and the inlet enthalpy, and variations more than 50% were found in the operating ranges examined in this study. However, changes in the inlet temperature, absolute humidity, and inlet air flow rate only resulted in variations between 10% and 20% in the examined ranges of conditions. Finally, a correlation among these variables and the simulated cooling capacity was obtained in this study, enabling the relevant researchers to evaluate automotive air conditioning performance under different environmental conditions and operation parameters more easily.

Shen, C.C., & J.H. Lu (2014) Analysis of the Performance of the Evaporator of Automotive Air Conditioning System, International J. of Automotive Technology 15(1):19-38.

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