The working cycle of a reciprocating compressor is characterized by heat generation, mainly due to compression transformation and friction phenomena. The main consequences are a reduction of the volumetric efficiency and an increase in the gas discharge temperature. Current regulations such as API618 for reciprocating compressors require a cylinder cooling system. Therefore, a proper design of the cooling circuit is needed in order to achieve the best balance between refrigerating potential and system capacity.

A systematic methodology for the evaluation of the heat transfer process is essential and since experimental characterization of the circuit is complex and case-dependent, the use of a numerical technique is the most favorable and generalizable approach. Within this scenario, 3D analysis shows a great potential although several phenomena must be accounted for in order to accurately model the system.

In this paper, a conjugate heat transfer (CHT) analysis on a double-acting water-cooled reciprocating compressor cylinder is presented, where the three-dimensional flow field of the water circuit and the thermal conduction inside the solid metal are solved simultaneously. The best practice for the imposition of consistent boundary conditions for the metal body is given with special attention to the heat transfer coefficient values for the suction and discharge gas chambers, the compression chamber and the external ambient. The assessment of the numerical methodology is completed with an investigation on the influence of wall roughness and buoyancy effects.

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