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Analysis of Hilton Air Conditioning Laboratory

Unit
A report on an analysis performed for

ME 115 Thermal Engineering Lab

San José State University

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

By

February 17, 2011

Abstract
The processes of an actual vapor compression refrigeration cycle were analyzed.
Measurements of temperature, pressure, and relative humidity at specified points of the
components of a Hilton air conditioner were taken and used to derive values for the
processes of the AC unit. Heat input and mass flow rate at the reheater were found to be
0.899 kW and 0.145 kg/s respectively. Rate of Cooling before and after the evaporator
was found to be -1.22 kW for air and -1.31 kW for the refrigerant. The saturation
temperature after the evaporator was 37.4°F. The rate of steam input was -0.145 kg/s
which is not possible therefore no steam was generated. The mass flow rate of condensate
was not determined.
Contents
Abstract................................................................................................................................2
Introduction..........................................................................................................................3
Objectives:...........................................................................................................................3
Theory..................................................................................................................................3
Apparatus.............................................................................................................................3
Procedure.............................................................................................................................5
Experimental Results and Calculations...............................................................................7
Discussion..........................................................................................................................10
Conclusions and Recommendations..................................................................................11
References..........................................................................................................................12
Appendices........................................................................................................................13

Introduction
Air-conditioners are a vital instrument in our everyday lives, but seldom are they seen in
the foreground that we take them for granted. They are critical to our survival in extreme
climates, they are necessary for daily comfort, and play major roles in infrastructure and
technological advancements. Most of us know that air-conditioners cool and heat the air
surrounding us, but what they really do and how they work is more complex than simply
pumping hot and cold air. Air-Conditioners or AC units modify the conditions of the
atmosphere so desirable levels of temperature, humidity, and air flow can be attained. As
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineers we will with certainty encounter applications
where the atmosphere will have to be controlled to specific conditions so understanding
how AC units work is crucial.
Objectives:
 To identify the components in a actual air-conditioning unit
 Perform energy balances and calculate humidity ratios
 To learn how experimental uncertainty can effect results 

Theory
Heat is defined as a type of energy that acts on matter to raise temperature. The primary
sources of automotive heat come from direct sunlight and engine heat. But there are
many factors which contribute to the work load of an air conditioning system.

In order to solve the problems heat presents, it must be moved by applying the
basic principle of heat transfer: Heat always moves from a warmer object to an
object of lesser heat.

Apparatus
The apparatus required for the experiment was a Hilton Air Conditioning unit. This AC
unit exhibits and determines all the processes in an AC other than filtration and mixing.
This AC uses R-12 as a refrigerant.

Crude air entering the ducting passes in series through


1. a centrifugal fan with speed control
2. a pre-heater
3. a cooler/dehumidifier
4. a re-heater
5. an orifice plate to allow calculation of air speed

Some of the equipment used in this experiment includes


- K-type thermocouples and a thermocouple reader. These thermocouples have an
uncertainty of about +/- 1°C
- A handheld relative humidity reader. It has an accuracy of about +/- 2%
- An inclined manometer to measure the pressure drop across the orifice plate
- A rotameter to determine the refrigerant flow rate
- Electronic pressure gauges
- A stopwatch and graduated cylinder

System Components
There are five basic components in an automotive air conditionings system. They are: the
evaporator, the compressor, the condenser, the receiver/drier and the expansion valve.
      
Evaporator:

The evaporator absorbs the heat from the passenger compartment. A blower fan forces
warm air across the tubes and fins of the evaporator. The refrigerant inside evaporates,
absorbing a tremendous amount of heat.
       Compressor:

This heated refrigerant must first travel to the compressor. The compressor utilizes the
engine’s power for operation.  The most important job the compressor has is to boost the
pressure of the refrigerant. The boosting of pressure primes the refrigerant and is essential
to system performance.

        Condenser: 

The condenser is located in front of the engine radiator. When the refrigerant reaches the
con- denser from the compressor, it’s in the form of a hot vapor under very high pressure.
The heat that is trapped in the hot refrigerant vapor literally moves from inside the
condenser to the cooler outside air. As the vapor starts to give up its heat, it begins to
change state again and starts to condense.

        Receiver:  

The receiver is a storage tank for the liquid refrigerant that is forced from the condenser.
Inside the receiver are a series of filters and a special drying agent, called a desiccant.
The filters within the receiver are designed to trap any matter that might be present.

       Expansion Valve:

The final component in the system is the expansion valve. It divides the system’s high
and low pressure sides. The expansion valve meters the release of hot, high pressure
liquid refrigerant into the low pressure environment of the evaporator. This creates a
sudden, rapid decrease in temperature and pressure of the refrigerant. The reason for
releasing the high pressure liquid into the evaporator is to decrease pressure, and in the
process, to decrease the temperature of the refrigerant. In this colder condition, the
refrigerant’s ability to absorb heat is increased. Warm air from the passenger
compartment passes over the evaporator, heat is absorbed, and the whole process begins
again. 

Procedure

Task 1
Take at least three of every reading and use the average in all calculations.

1. Empty the small jar where condensate is collected, replace it and start the
stopwatch.

2. Open lab-view for the AC experiment and start data collection. Only the pressure
gauges are working.
3. Investigate the schematic and T-s diagram shown in figure 1. Note the path of the
refrigerant through each component. Quickly touch the pipe at the exit of the
compressor and exit of the expansion valve and observe if the readings are close
to what you expect them to be.

Figure 1 (Cengel, 2002)

4. Using a hand-held meter, measure the relative humidity in the room, before the
evaporator, after the evaporator, and after the reheater.

5. Measure the air temperature at the inlet, before the evaporator, after the
evaporator, and after the re-heater using a hand-held thermocouple reader. Give
thirty seconds to the thermocouple and then record the temperature.

6. Connect the thermocouple reader to ports A (gives temperature at the exit of the
condenser), B (temperature at the exit of the evaporator) and C (temperature at the
exit of the expansion valve).

7. Measure the refrigerant flow rate using a rotameter.

8. Take the inclined manometer reading.

9. Stop the timer and measure the volume of the fluid collected using a graduated
cylinder.

Task 2
- Derive the simplified version for each component in the simple vapor-
compression cycle using by the first law of thermodynamics.

- Calculate the expected compressor power and the rate of heat added or lost in
the evaporator and condenser using the date below.

R12 flow rate: 20 grams/s entering expansion valve: 45ºC, 990 kPa (gage)
entering evaporator: 10ºC exiting evaporator: 20 ºC, 322 kPa (gage)
exiting compressor: 80ºC

Task 3

- Use the data below to calculate the rate of heat removed from the air in the
evaporator.
air entering evaporator: 30ºC, 50% relative humidity
air exiting evaporator: 14ºC, 100% relative humidity
condensed water: 4 ml over 25 minutes

- Using the data below calculate the mass flow rate of steam added to the air.
inlet air conditions: 20ºC, 35% relative humidity
after steam addition: 23ºC, 70% relative humidity
air mass flow rate: 0.1 kg/s

Experimental Results and Calculations

Number 1:

The equation below was used to calculate the mass flow rate of air:

0.5
 z 
m air  0.0504  
 air specific volume  (Eq. 1)
where

z = pressure drop = P2 – P1 = (8.4 – 1.6) mmH2O = 6.8 mmH2O


air specific volume =0.824 m3/kg
Applying these known quantities to Eq. 1 yields

air = 0.0504(6.8 mm H2O/0.824 m3/kg)0.5


air = 0.145 kg/s

The equation below was used to calculate the heat input from the reheater from the
measured temperatures:

Q  W   m e he   m i hi
(Eq. 2)

where
.
W = 0 kJ/s
e = i = air = 0.145 kg/s
he = h4 = 34 kJ/kg
hi = h3 = 27.8 kJ/kg

As a result, Eq. 2 simplifies to


.
Q= air (h4 – h3) (Eq. 3)

Applying the known quantities of the mass flow rate of air, the enthalpy at the exit, and
the enthalpy at the inlet to Eq. 3 yields
.
Q = 0.145 kg/s (34 kJ/kg – 27.8 kJ/kg)

.
Q = 0.899 kW

The calculated heat transfer rate of 0.899 kW was 0.101 kW less than the 1 kW power
listing of the reheater. As a result, the percentage error turned out to be 10.1%. The cause
of this slight difference is most likely due to the calculated value of air. The numerical
value of air depends on the differential pressure between the inlet and the outlet. The
pressure for both of these locations (inlet and outlet) was constantly varying with respect
to time and as a result, average values for P1 and P2 were taken. Another potential cause
for the discrepancy between the nominal value and the calculated value for the heat input
of the reheater is the temperature readings at the inlet and/or the outlet. K-type
thermocouples and thermocouple readers generally have an uncertainty of about +/- 1°C.
Number 2:

The equation below was used to calculate the rate of cooling from the air data before and
after the evaporator:
. . .
Qair = mair (hout – hin) + mcondensatehcondensate (Eq. 4)

where
.
mair = 0.145 kg/s
.
mcondensate = 0 kg/s
hcondensate = 0 kJ/kg
Tin = 5.39 °C; Pin = 300 kPa absolute  hin = h2 = 36.2 kJ/kg
Tout = 0.67 °C; Pout = 300 kPa absolute  hout = h3 = 27.8 kJ/kg

Applying these known quantities to Eq. 4 yields


.
Qair = (0.145 kg/s) (27.8 kJ/kg - 36.2 kJ/kg)
.
Qair = -1.22 kW (negative since the air is being cooled)

The equation below was used to calculate the rate of cooling from the refrigerant data
before and after the evaporator:
. . .
QR12 = mR12 (hout – hin) + mcondensatehcondensate (Eq. 5)

where
.
mR12 = 15 g/s = 0.015 kg/s
.
mcondensate = 0 kg/s
hcondensate = 0 kJ/kg
Tin = 37.9 °C; Pin = 950 kPa absolute  hin = h2 = 218 kJ/kg
Tout = 2.78 °C; Pout = 400 kPa absolute  hout = h3 = 131 kJ/kg

Applying these known quantities to Eq. 5 yields


.
QR12 = (0.015 kg/s) (131 kJ/kg - 218 kJ/kg)
.
QR12 = -1.31 kW (negative since Refrigerant 12 is being cooled)

The calculated rate of cooling of Refrigerant 12 is roughly close to the calculated rate of
cooling of air. The values are off by 0.09 kW; thus, it is not a large margin of error. The
aspects which would account for the differences are probably the mass flow rate of
Refrigerant 12 since it was oscillating with time and the measured temperatures at the
different locations. Since four different temperatures were recorded, the probability of
uncertainty increases since they were also changing with time.

Number 3:

Saturation temperature was determined to be 37.4 °F for low pressure. 100 kPa was
added to the gage pressure to change pressure units to absolute. We assumed there is no
large temperature change when the refrigerant enters and exits the evaporator; so the
difference at the evaporator’s exits shows no heat lost or gained. However, according to
the T-S diagram the refrigerant temperature barely dropped, so there was no heat gain
and small amount of heat lost; hence, the T-S diagram is logical. If the gage pressure was
recorded 20% higher than the actual pressure, the value of h would have been higher.

Number 4:

The equation below was used to calculate the mass flow rate of steam in system:

m steam    exit   inlet  m air


where

air = 0.145 kg/s


exit = 5.5 g moisture/kg dry air = 0.0055
inlet = 6.5 g moisture/kg dry air = 0.0065

Applying these known quantities to Eq. yields

steam = (0.0055 – 0.0065)(0.145 kg/s)


steam = -0.145 kg/s
The calculated answer shows a negative number, which is not possible. Therefore, we
concluded that NO steam was generated due to low humidity of room. Relative humidity
varies from position to position because the mass flow rate changes the humidity ratio.
The negative value could also show that during the lab experiment something happened,
such as gathering inaccurate data.

Number 5:
No condensate was collected, from the result of no steam generated. Comparison was not
made between calculated condensate flow rate and measure.

Discussion
This lab required us to receive a variety of measurements from the Hilton Air
Conditioning Unit. Once we had the necessary values, our first task was to calculate the
heat input from the reheater using the first law of thermodynamics. Our calculated heat
transfer rate was .899 KW which compared to the 1 KW power listing we only
encountered a 10.1% error. This was a good indication that our calculations were correct
and any error encountered could probably be due to the humidity accuracy given by the
relative humidity reader. Another source of error could have been the manometer we used
to measure the pressure and figure out our z value. This manometer was very difficult to
read since it is not digital and could account for some percent error and random deviation.
The next calculation we had to make was to calculate the mass flow rate of air. This was
done by using the equation provided and our measurements which resulted in a mass flow
rate of 0.145 kg/s. The accepted value was .1 kg/s which results in a 45% error. This
again can be due to many factors such as faulty equipment or surrounding conditions.

The next step was to calculate the rate of cooling from the air data. Not taking into
account condensation our calculated value was determined to be -1.22 KW. We then
calculated the rate of cooling using the refrigerant data R12 (Freon), which resulted in a
value of -1.31 KW. These values, when compared, had a big difference due to the fact
that we could not calculate the enthalpy at the inlet to the evaporator directly. Assuming
that the enthalpy across the expansion valve is constant is certain to create a percent error
since we are assuming an ideal case.

The next step was to calculate the rate of steam input from the relative humidity values
that we have measured. The value calculated was -.145 kg/s which according to the
negative sign concluded that no steam was generated due to the surrounding humidity.
Relative humidity would change from position to position due to changes in temperature
and mass flow rate.

The final calculation we had to make was to calculate the mass flow rate is condensate
before and after the evaporator from our measured humidity ratios. For this step we could
not calculate any values due to the fact that no steam was generated and we did not
account for any condensate in this lab.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The purpose of this lab was to demonstrate and evaluate the energy transfers occurring in
all the processes of the AC unit. This was done by taking a variety of measurements with
a certain amount of standard deviation. At the end of the lab we noticed that some of our
compared values had a very large percent error which we assumed to be due to the faulty
equipment and certain assumptions. During the analysis of the AC unit we were able to
identify all of the essential parts and they seemed to be working fine but the relative
humidity reader would say otherwise.

Recommendations for this lab would have to be to take your time in measuring any
values. After numerous calculations it was evident that any small deviation in numbers
resulted in a large percent error. Also, better equipment is necessary in order to receive
accurate measurements. This will help students better understand the processes going on
in an AC unit.

References

1. Cengel, Y.A., Boles, M.A., (2006) Thermodynamics: An Engineering


Approach, 5th ed., McGraw-Hill, New York.

2. “ME115 Experiment 1 Analysis of a Hilton Air Conditioning Laboratory


Unit” Retrieved February 3, 2011 from http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/ndejong/ME
114 S06/AC lab.doc

3. Department of Engineering, Stanford University (nd) “Saturated R12 Chart”


Retrieved February 3, 2011 from http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/jrhee/vr/
ac/R12.pdf

4. Department of Engineering, Stanford University (nd) “Super-Heated R12


Chart” Retrieved February 3, 2011 from http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/jrhee/vr/
ac/SuperR12.pdf
5. Furman B. J., “ME 120 Laboratory Report Guidelines” (2007). Retrieved
February 15, 2011 from: http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/bjfurman/courses/
ME120/me120pdf/ ME120labreportguide.pdf

Appendices

Appendix A- Raw Data