The design and optimisation of a bubble pump for an aqua–ammonia diffusion absorption heat pump
Van der Walt, Stefan
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Energy shortages around the world necessitated research into alternative energy sources especially for domestic applications to reduce the load on conventional energy sources. This resulted in research done on the possibility of integrating solar energy with an aqua-ammonia diffusion absorption cycle specifically for domestic applications. The bubble pump can be seen as the heart of the diffusion absorption cycle, since it is responsible, in the absence of a mechanical pump, to circulate the fluid and to desorb the refrigerant (ammonia) from the mixture. It is thus of paramount importance to ensure that the bubble pump is designed efficiently. Various bubble pump simulation models have been developed over the years, but it was found that none of the existing models served as a good basis for application-specific design. Most of the models constrained too many parameters from the outset which made the investigation of the effects of certain parameters on the bubble pump’s performance impossible. According to the research, no bubble pump model investigated the effect of such a wide variety of factors including tube diameter, heat flux, mass flux, generator heat input and system pressure on the bubble pump’s lift height. A simulation model for a bubble pump for integration with a solar-driven aqua-ammonia diffusion absorption cycle was developed. It serves as a versatile design model to optimise the bubble pump for a large variety of conditions as well as changes in parameters. It was achieved by constraining the bubble pump dimensions and parameters as little as possible. A unique feature of this model was the fact that the bubble pump tube was divided into segments of known quality which made the length of the pipe completely dependent on the flow inside the pipe. It also made the demarcation of the flow development inside the tube easier. The model attempted to incorporate the most appropriate correlations for pressurised two-phase aqua-ammonia flow. The most appropriate void fraction correlation was found to be the design and optimisation of a bubble pump for an aqua-ammonia diffusion absorption heat pump the Rouhani-Axelsson (Rouhani I) correlation. It was mainly due to its exclusive use of thermophysical properties and the vapour quality. The most appropriate heat transfer coefficient that predicted the most realistic wall temperature, was the correlation from Riviera and Best (1999) which was the only correlation found in the literature developed with aqua-ammonia in mind. It was found that the published correlation could not reproduce their experimental results, and a modification of their correlation was made after which the simulation model’s results correlated well with the experimental values of Riviera and Best (1999). The main goal of the simulation model was to determine the height that the bubble pump was capable of lifting at the slug to churn flow transition under various conditions. The effect of varying a variety of parameters on the bubble pump lift height was also investigated. The results from Shelton & White Stewart (2002) were compared to the outputs of the simulation model, and it was found that their constraining of the submergence ratio limited their outputs, and that their heat inputs under different conditions was a bit optimistic. The simulation model’s outputs correlated well at higher tube diameters with the results from Shelton & White Stewart (2002), but at the lower diameters which was used in their study it was impossible to compare data, since their diameters was already in mini flow and micro flow regions. The temperatures also correlated well, all within 2% of the results from Shelton & White Stewart (2002). It was found that there couldn’t be just one set of optimised conditions and values for the bubble pump, but that each cycle with differing specifications and operating conditions would yield a unique set of optimised parameters. It was for that reason very important not to constrain parameters beforehand without investigating its effect on the bubble pump first.
- Engineering