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Buildings—Reaching the boiling point

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Posted October 8, 2019

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated that metal foam enhances the evaporation process in thermal conversion systems and enables the development of compact heating, ventilation and refrigeration, or HVAC&R, units.

Compact and efficient HVAC&R equipment is needed to support the global industry transition to using alternative, environmentally friendly refrigerants.

ORNL researchers discovered that open cell metal foams have complex cell structure and a large surface per unit volume, which enhance the pool-boiling process necessary for evaporation in HVAC&R units. They developed a small-scale evaporator to prove the foams could function well in complex systems. Credit: Kashif Nawaz/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S Dept. of Energy

The team developed a small-scale evaporator to test the foam’s. The small-scale evaporator proved metal foam is well-suited for compact systems.

“We found that the presence of a porous open cell or sponge-like metal foam layer in an evaporator’s tubes increases the liquid refrigerant’s boiling rate, creating essentially an enhanced pool-boiling process that can accommodate much higher heat fluxes compared to conventional technology,” ORNL’s Kashif Nawaz said.

“Enhancement materials like metal foams increase equipment efficiency by improving the phase change or vaporization process.”

 

 

Source: ORNL

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