Analytical and Experimental Study of Annular Two-Phase Flow Friction Pressure Drop Under Microgravity
Nguyen, Ngoc Thanh
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Two-phase liquid-gas flow has a wide variety of applications in space, including active thermal control systems, high-power communications satellites, heat pumps and space nuclear reactors. Two-phase systems have many potential advantages over current single-phase systems due to reductions in system size, weight and power consumption. The mechanisms of pressure drop, heat transfer coefficients, void fractions, and flow regimes must be well understood under microgravity conditions in order to design reliable two-phase systems. The main objective of this present research is to develop a new mathematical model that can accurately predict the annular two-phase friction pressure drop to optimize the design of two-phase systems. The two-phase flow tests were conducted aboard the NASA KC-135 aircraft by the Interphase Transport Phenomena (ITP) group from Texas A&M University. The two-phase flow pressure drops were measured across a single transparent test section 12.7 mm ID and 1.63 m long in annular regimes under microgravity conditions during two flight campaigns. Different from previous work, this was the first time both the void fraction and the film thickness were measured under microgravity conditions. The empirical correlations for the interfacial friction factor and void fraction were developed from 57 experimental data using a linear least squares regression technique. The annular two-phase friction pressure drop can be predicted by the new mathematical model requiring only knowledge of the length and diameter of the tube, liquid and vapor mass flow rates, and properties of the working fluid. In addition, the new mathematical model was validated using Foster-Miller & ITP data collected over twelve flights aboard the KC-135 with working fluid R-12 (77 data points), Sundstrand data collected aboard the KC-135 with working fluid R-114 (43 data points) and Zhao and Rezkallah data aboard the KC-135 with working fluid water and air (43 data points). Compared with the LockhartMartinelli model, Wheeler model, Chen model and homogeneous model, the new mathematical model is the optimal model for predicting the two-phase friction pressure drop in annular regimes. The majority of the data falls within +-20% of the proposed correlation and the average error is 12%.