Research Papers: Thermal Systems

Experimental Investigation of Temperature Separation in a Counter-Flow Vortex Tube

[+] Author and Article Information
P. A. Ramakrishna

Department of Aerospace Engineering,
IIT Madras,
Chennai 600 036, India
e-mail: parama@ae.iitm.ac.in

M. Ramakrishna, R. Manimaran

Department of Aerospace Engineering,
IIT Madras,
Chennai 600 036, India

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received August 7, 2012; final manuscript received March 12, 2014; published online April 23, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Wei Tong.

J. Heat Transfer 136(8), 082801 (Apr 23, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: HT-12-1422; doi: 10.1115/1.4027248 History: Received August 07, 2012; Revised March 12, 2014

An experimental study of a counter-flow Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube is reported here. Literature has been divided over the mechanism of energy transfer responsible for the temperature separation in the vortex tube. A black box approach is used to design experiments to infer the relative roles of heat transfer and shear work transfer in the counter-flow vortex tube. To this end, the stagnation temperature and the mass flow rates are measured at the inlet and the two outlets. In addition, pressure measurements at the stagnation condition and at the inlet section to the vortex tube were made. Based on these experiments, it is reasoned that the predominant mode of energy transfer responsible for temperature separation in a counter-flow vortex is the shear work transfer between the core and the periphery.

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Fig. 1

A sectional view of the Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube along with view of the cold end

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Fig. 2

Possible paths of energy transfer between the core, periphery, and the ambient atmosphere. AB and GF represent the walls of the vortex tube, BC the cold exit, AG the inlet, BCDE the core flow, and EFGAB the flow in the periphery. m·h is the net flow through DEF. Ha and Hc represent the process heat and Wa and Wb represent work.

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Fig. 3

A schematic of the experimental setup. Po, To, Tc, Th, m·i,m·c,m·h are measured. Nominal values of absolute pressure are also shown.

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Fig. 4

Graphs capturing the variation of the cold-end temperatures with mass fraction ε

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Fig. 5

Variation of temperature separation with mass fraction for different materials

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Fig. 6

Performance of the vortex tube made of copper and insulated by wax

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Fig. 7

A schematic of the revised experimental setup

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Fig. 8

Performance of the vortex tubes made of copper and steel at Po = 2 bar and different inlet total temperatures To corresponding to case 1: Ha≈0 and case 2:Ha > 0

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Fig. 10

A schematic of the experimental setup for low pressure measurements

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Fig. 9

Sectional view of the vortex chamber showing pressure tap used as pressure port 4 at the inlet




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