An experimental investigation of two-phase flow mechanisms during condensation of refrigerant R134a in small diameter round and rectangular tubes was conducted. A 4.91 mm round tube, and four round tubes with hydraulic diameters ranging from 1 mm – 4 mm were studied to characterize the influence of tube miniaturization on the flow mechanisms. For each tube under consideration, flow mechanisms were recorded over the entire range of qualities 0 < x < 1, and for five different mass fluxes between 150 kg/m2-s and 750 kg/m2-s. Approximately 50 data points were recorded for each tube to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the effects of geometry, mass flux and quality on the phase-change flow mechanisms. The flow mechanisms were categorized into four different flow regimes: intermittent flow, wavy flow, annular flow, and dispersed flow. In addition, the large amount of data over a wide range of test conditions enabled the delineation of several different flow patterns within each flow regime, which provides a clearer understanding of the different modes of two-phase flow. Transition lines between the respective flow patterns and regimes on these maps were established based on the experimental data. It was found that the intermittent flow regime becomes larger as the tube hydraulic diameter is decreased. Also, the size of the wavy flow regime decreases for the small diameter tubes, and disappears completely for the 1 × 1 mm square tube. These maps and transition lines can be used to predict the flow pattern or regime that will be established for a given mass flux, quality and tube geometry.

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