The results of an experimental investigation of the energy separation performance of a micro-scale Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube are presented in this paper. The micro-scale vortex tube is 2 mm in diameter and constructed using a layered technique from multiple pieces of Plexiglas and aluminum. Four inlet slots, symmetrically located around the tube, form the vortex. The hydraulic diameter of each inlet slot and the orifice diameter for the cold exit are 229 and 800 microns respectively. The working fluid is low pressure, non-dehumidified compressed air at room temperature. The rate of the hot gas flow is varied by means of a control valve to achieve different values of cold mass fraction. The mass flow rates, temperatures and pressures of the supply and outlet flows are measured and the performance of the device presented. The supply channel Reynolds number is varied over a considerable range which extends into the laminar regime in order to determine the operating conditions for cooling. An increase in dimensionless temperature is found in both the cold and hot outlets as supply nozzle Reynolds number increases from zero. Maximum values occur at a Reynolds number of approximately 500 and the cold flow dimensionless temperature becomes negative at about 2500. Although the optimum cold mass ratio is higher than the conventional tubes, the effect on performance of tube length and cold exit diameter is similar to the conventional devices.

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