A Study of Heat Pump Fin Staged Evaporators Under Frosting Conditions



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Texas A&M University


This dissertation provides a detailed description of the research work completed on fin staged heat exchangers. The effects of staging fin on the frosting performance of heat pump evaporators and the whole heat pump system have been studied experimentally and theoretically. Frost degrades the performance of fin-and-tube outdoor coils as well as the whole heat pump system. The objective of the experimental part of this study was to investigate the effects of the staging fin on the frost/defrost performance of heat pump outdoor coils under different operating conditions. To accomplish this objective, a series of frosting tests was conducted on an off-the-shelf heat pump system with five (three two-row and two three-row) evaporators over a range of outdoor temperatures and humidities and a range of airflow rates typical of those found in residential sized heat pumps. Performances of the heat pump unit with baseline or fin staged outdoor coils at either frosting or steady-state test conditions are compared and analyzed. Experimental data showed that for a given tworow heat pump outdoor coil operating at the standard ANSI/ASHRAE 35 ?F (1.7 ?C) frosting conditions, fin staging increased cycle time and COP. There was a small decrease in peak capacity at lower initial airflow rates. At a lower temperature of 28 ?F (2.2 ?C), cycle time continued to be enhanced with fin staging, and cyclic COP was within 5% of the base case when fin staging was used. In the second step of this work, an analytical model to simulate the performance of both the baseline and fin staged heat pump coils under frosting conditions was developed based on fundamental heat and mass transfer principles. The transient performance of the frosted evaporator was analyzed with the quasi-steady state approach. The section-by-section evaluation scheme was combined with the tubeby- tube approach to model the mass transfer process in the frost formation module. The two-dimensional fin surface was divided into a number of parallel non-overlapping sections. Each of the sections was the calculation unit for the mass transfer. Methods for calculating the airside heat transfer coefficient and friction factor were developed and applied to the simulation model of the fin staged coil. To verify the validity of the frosted evaporator model, the frosting performance of three two-row coils at the same test conditions was simulated and compared with experimental data. The frosted evaporator model appeared to provide satisfactory simulation of the fin-and-tube heat exchanger during the frost buildup process. Comparisons with the test data indicated that the model could capture the trends of the coil capacity, pressure drop, airflow and frost growth. The model also provided a variety of other simulation results including frost mass accumulation, air velocity inside coil, air and refrigerant outlet state, and so on. Overall, the numerical results were in reasonable agreement with the test data under different frosting operation conditions.