The characteristics of evaporation heat transfer and pressure drop for refrigerant R134a flowing in a plate heat exchanger were investigated experimentally in this study. Two vertical counter flow channels were formed in the exchanger by three plates of commercialized geometry with a corrugated sine shape of a chevron angle of 60°. Upflow boiling of refrigerant R134a in one channel receives heat from the hot downflow of water in the other channel. The effects of the heat flux, mass flux, quality and pressure of R134a on the evaporation heat transfer and pressure drop were explored. The preliminary measured data for the water to water single phase convection showed that the heat transfer coefficient in the plate heat exchanger is about 9 times of that in a circular pipe at the same Reynolds number. Even at a very low Reynolds number, the present flow visualization in a plate heat exchanger with the transparent outer plate showed that the flow in the plate heat exchanger remains turbulent. Data for the pressure drop were also examined in detail. It is found that the evaporation heat transfer coefficient of R134a in the plates is quite different from that in circular pipe, particularly in the convective evaporation dominated regime at high vapor quality. Relatively intense boiling on the corrugated surface was seen from the flow visualization.
More specifically, the present data showed that both the evaporation heat transfer coefficient and pressure drop increase with the vapor quality. At a higher mass flux the pressure drop is higher for the entire range of the vapor quality but the heat transfer is only better at high quality. Raising the imposed wall heat flux was found to slightly improve the heat transfer. While at a higher system pressure the heat transfer and pressure drop are both slightly lower.