Understanding the behavior of transient two phase refrigerant flow is an important aspect of implementing vapor compression systems in future aerospace applications. Pressure drop and heat transfer coefficient are important parameters that guide the design process, and are influenced by flow regime. Published two phase flow models rely heavily on a priori knowledge of the current two phase flow conditions including flow regime. Additional complications arise when applying published correlations to a range of systems because each correlation is based on a specific set of experimental conditions, including working fluid, flow orientation, channel size, and channel shape. Non-intrusive measurement techniques provide important advantages while measuring the behavior of two phase flow systems.
A two phase flow experimental test rig has been developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory, providing a closed loop refrigeration system capable of producing flow regimes from bubbly through annular flow. Two phase flow is produced by pumping subcooled R134a through a heat exchanger with 40 minichannels into an adiabatic transparent fused quartz observation channel with a hydraulic diameter of 7 mm. Refrigerant mass flux is varied from 100–400 kg/m2s with a heat flux from 0–15.5 W/cm2. Temperatures ranged from 18–25 °C and pressures between 550–750 kPa. The data from high speed pressure transducers were analyzed using standard signal processing techniques to identify the different flow regimes. Initial results indicate that different flow regimes can be identified from their pressure signature. In addition, real-time void fraction measurements were taken using Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT). This paper describes the process behind ECT systems used to measure two phase flow conditions. Comparisons with high speed video assess the accuracy of ECT measurements in identifying various two phase flow conditions. Results indicate variations between ECT and high speed images, however, enough information is provided to create flow pattern maps and regime identification for different superficial vapor and liquid velocities.