Microchannel evaporators are being increasingly considered for application in residential and commercial cooling and heat pump applications. This work analyzes the principles of refrigerant circuiting design in refrigerant-to-air heat exchangers using an element-by-element model developed for a microchannel evaporator. Geometric parameters such as microchannel tube depth, tube height, and port size, louvered fin density, louver angle, louver height, louver pitch, and fin height, as well as the air side face velocity, the refrigerant pressure-drop and heat transfer as a function of refrigerant mass flux are considered in the analysis. The model was first validated using data available in the open literature, thus providing a high level of confidence in the predictive ability of the model. Starting with a given microchannel tube and louvered fin geometry and a fixed number of tubes (and fins), the thermal performance of the heat exchanger was simulated over a wide range of two pass circuit configurations and tube lengths. It was found that the heat transfer versus pressure-drop trade-off provides an optimum relationship between the fraction of tubes in the first pass and the heat exchanger length. The sensitivity of the evaporator cooling capacity to the percentage of tubes in the first pass was also explored.

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