Influence of orifice plate shape on condenser unit effectiveness
Kuluris, Stephen Patrick
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In both residential and commercial buildings, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) is the largest consumer of energy. The HVAC industry works to consistently reduce their energy consumption in order to lower consumer costs and to stay competitive in the field. Therefore, improving fan efficiency of any component in an HVAC system is beneficial. A major part of the industry is to use the vapor-compression refrigeration cycle to cool buildings and an essential component of the cycle is the condenser unit. Axial fans are commonly used to move air through and cool the heated refrigerant coil. Improving axial fan performance by redesigning the casing that surrounds the fan, known as an orifice plate, is suspected to lead to a more productive condenser unit. Changing the geometry can increase performance by reducing turbulence generation both upstream and downstream of the fan, which is thought to be a major contributor to loss in fan fan efficiency. Manufacturing many different geometries in a design process to find an improved orifice plate is time-consuming and expensive. With advances in computer technologies, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has become a low-cost alternative to iterative, physical prototyping. This work uses CFD in the design process of an orifice plate, to characterize and analyze the effects of different geometries. Fan fan efficiency and volume ow rate characterize the performance of the design, and turbulence, vorticity, and pressure visualization provides further information about the effects of design changes. The orifice geometry upstream and downstream of the fan were changed independently, and then both regions were combined into a single design. Results show that the flow upstream and downstream are affected in different ways, and contribute to overall fan efficiency through different mechanics. An improvement to the inlet region produced an fan efficiency increase of 4.8%, and the addition of an outlet region increases fan efficiency by 9.8%. The combined change in the orifice resulted in an overall increase in fan efficiency by 15.85% over the original design.