Although Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) were banned with the Montreal Protocol in 1987, current refrigeration plants can not be considered sustainable for the environment. ODS have been in fact substituted by gases with high Global Warming Potential (GWP). Among many alternatives, inverse Joule Brayton air cycle had been already implemented and tested for refrigeration purposes. In the open cycles described in the available literature, the operating fluid (air) is firstly compressed by a bootstrap (volumetric) compressor and then processed by a second (centrifugal) compressor and cooled; then, it is expanded in a turbine which drives the centrifugal compressor and discharges a cold flow which can be used (directly or indirectly) for refrigeration purposes. In this work, an inverse Joule Brayton air cycle has been studied with the employment of turbocharger units. Experimental tests have been performed in order to reproduce the state-of-the-art with a small automotive turbocharger unit. Measurements show Coefficient Of Performance (COP) smaller than unit together with minimum turbine exit temperature equal to −10°C. This is due to low components efficiency: the analysis of turbine and turbocompressor maps highlights a non-optimal coupling between them. Secondly, basing on these considerations, two new air cycle layouts are proposed and analyzed. Calculations performed by means of a thermodynamic model show that higher COP and lower cycle minimum temperature can be achieved with the proposed new cycles by means of better turbine and turbocompressor matching and bigger turbocharger units with higher components efficiency.

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