Title:
Condenser and tube therefor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a condenser and especially a tube therefor which is particularly suited for use in condensers that operate at operating pressures of approximately 20 bar. The condenser is a flat-tube condenser having tubes of substantially flat cross section extending between header tubes and cooling fins supported on the flat surfaces of the tubes. The tubes have a substantially flat cross section and a plurality of flow channels disposed side by side. The flow channels are substantially circular and have a hydraulic diameter of from 1.10 mm to 1.30 mm. Tubes of flat cross section and circular flow channels disposed in series operate with a particular advantageous effect in serpentine condensers.



Inventors:
Kaspar, Martin (Esslingen, DE)
Molt, Kurt (Bietigheim-Bissingen, DE)
Application Number:
11/166342
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
06/27/2005
Assignee:
BEHR GmbH & CO.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
165/177
International Classes:
F28B1/00; F25B39/04; F28D1/053; F28F1/02; F28F1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
FORD, JOHN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Foley And, Lardner Llp Suite 500 (3000 K STREET NW, WASHINGTON, DC, 20007, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tube for a condenser operating under pressures of approximately 20 bar, comprising: a) a cross section having a width that is greater than its height; b) a substantially flat profile along a width of the tube; and c) a plurality of flow channels arranged side by side along a width of the tube, wherein the flow channels comprise a substantially round cross section and further comprise a hydraulic diameter of 1.10 to 1.30 mm.

2. A tube as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a continuous web arranged between the flow channels and separating adjacent flow channels from one another.

3. A tube as claimed in claim 2, wherein the tube comprises flow channels disposed side by side in a widthwise direction.

4. A tube as claimed in claim 3, wherein the flow channels comprise a hydraulic diameter of from 1.14 mm to 1.26 mm.

5. A tube as claimed in claim 3, wherein the flow channels comprise a hydraulic diameter of from 1.18 mm to 1.22 mm.

6. A tube as claimed in claim 3, wherein the flow channels comprise a hydraulic diameter of about 1.20 mm.

7. A tube as claimed in claim 6, wherein the cross section of the tube comprises a width of about 16 mm, a height of about 1.8 mm, a minimum thickness, W, of a wall between the flow channels and of an outer wall of the tube of approximately 0.3 mm and a minimum thickness, S, of the webs between the flow channels of approximately 0.2 mm.

8. A tube as claimed in claim 1, further comprising 11 parallel flow channels in a row.

9. A condenser operating under pressures of approximately 20 bar comprising at least one tube as claimed in claim 1.

10. A condenser as claimed in claim 9, further comprising a plurality of said tubes; two header tubes arranged in leak-proof fluid communication with each of the plurality of tubes; and cooling fins arranged between adjacent tubes of the plurality of tubes.

11. A condenser as claimed in claim 10, or wherein the header tubes each comprise a substantially circular cross section, a plurality of apertures, each receiving one of the plurality of tubes to provide fluid communication between a header and one of said tubes, and a fixed connection between each header and the plurality of tubes received thereby.

12. A condenser as claimed in claim 10, further comprising a refrigerant inlet line in fluid communication with one header and a refrigerant outlet line in fluid communication with one header.

13. A condenser as claimed in claim 12, wherein the refrigerant inlet is connected to a first header tube substantially at a first end and the refrigerant outlet is connected to a second header tube substantially at a second end wherein the second end is remote from the end of the second header tube lying opposite the first end of the first header tube.

14. A condenser as claimed in claim 12, wherein the refrigerant inlet is connected to a first header tube at one end and the refrigerant outlet is connected to the other end of the first header tube.

15. A condenser as claimed in claim 10, wherein the header tubes and the plurality of tubes are formed and arranged such that refrigerant entering said condenser passes through a first set of tubes from the first header tube to the second header tube and is then guided back through a second set of tubes from the second header tube to the first header tube.

16. A condenser as claimed in claim 15, further comprising at least n partitions in the second header tube for directing refrigerant flowing therethrough through a set of tubes to the first header tube downstream of the last tube of that set and n-1 further partitions provided in the first header tube for each return of the refrigerant through a further set of tubes to the second header tube downstream of the last tube of this further set, wherein n=1 or 2.

17. A condenser as claimed in claim 15, wherein the number of tubes of each set of tubes is greater than or equal to the number of tubes in a further set of tubes arranged adjacently downstream.

18. A condenser as claimed in claim 15, comprising 6 sets of tubes wherein a first set, which leads away from the refrigerant inlet, comprises 17 tubes, a second set downstream of and adjacent to the first set comprises 10 tubes, a third set downstream of and adjacent to the second set comprises 7 tubes, a fourth set downstream of and adjacent to the third set comprises 6 tubes, a fifth set downstream of and adjacent to a fourth set comprising 4 tubes and a sixth set downstream of and adjacent to the fifth set comprising 4 tubes.

19. A condenser as claimed in claim 10, wherein the refrigerant inlet is suitable for the admission of, refrigerant substantially in vapor form, wherein the header tubes and the tubes are suitable for the condensation of refrigerant vapor and wherein the refrigerant outlet is suitable for the release of, refrigerant substantially in condensed form.

20. A method of producing a tube as claimed in claim 1, comprising extruding the tube.

21. A method as claimed in claim 20, further comprising extruding the tube from aluminum or an alloy thereof.

22. A motor vehicle comprising a condenser as claimed in claim 9.

Description:

The present application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/985,300, filed Nov. 2, 2001, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a condenser and especially to a tube therefor which is particularly suited for use in condensers that operate under operating pressures of approximately 20 bar. One particular condenser according to the invention, is what is known as a flat-tube condenser. In such a flat-tube condenser, tubes of substantially flat cross section extend between header tubes. Cooling fins, supported on the flat surfaces of the tubes, may be disposed between the tubes of substantially flat cross section. With such an arrangement, the intention is that the heat from the refrigerant circulating in the condenser is dissipated to a coolant, usually air, substantially flowing through the condenser.

2. Description of Related Art

U.S. Pat. No. 5,307,870 describes header tubes for flat-tube condensers having header tubes of arcuate cross section. Parallel tubes run between these header tubes, in a manner such that a parallel flow condenser is formed. In other words, refrigerant vapor is introduced into one of the header tubes, passed through the parallel tubes, then is condensed and passed to the other header tube, and then leaves the condenser. In one embodiment, this printed publication describes tubes with parallel flow channels of round cross section formed therein. According to this United States patent a condenser of this kind is provided for high-pressure condensers.

German published application 198 45 336 relates to a heat exchanger which is operated with CO2 as a refrigerant under high operating pressures of up to 100 bar. A multi-chamber flat tube is used therein and is formed as a rectilinear tube for a parallel flow condenser or as a tube with serpentine curvature for a parallel flow condenser. The channels in the tube are preferably provided with an oval, or alternatively circular, cross section. The circular cross section is disclosed as being suitable for high pressure resistance. In order to achieve a high heat transmission capacity, where the channels are of round cross section, the two wider sides of the flat tubes have an undulating profile.

In addition, in parallel flow or serpentine flow heat exchangers, use is made of flat tubes whose flow channels have rectangular or triangular cross sections. Reference is made here by way of example to GB A-2,133,525, JP-A-59-13877, U.S. Pat. No. 3,689,972, U.S. Pat. No. 2,136,641, GB-A-1,601,954, JP-A-57-66389, JP-A-58-221390 or EP-A-583,851. In many cases, the surfaces of the flow channels are enlarged by means of suitable measures, such as fins and grooves, in order to achieve higher heat transmission (cf. JP-A-59-13877, JP-A-57-66389 and JP-A-58-221390). By contrast with these shapes, JP-A-114145 illustrates rhomboidal flow channels which are said to ensure improved contact between the gaseous refrigerant and the walls of the flow channels and an improved outflow of condensate.

In addition, what are known as serpentine condensers are known, in which a refrigerant is passed backward and forward a plurality of times through various groups of tubes between two header tubes provided with partitions, cf. EP-A-255 131. The tubes used for this purpose exclusively have flow channels with square or rectangular cross sections.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, one object of the present invention is to provide an improved tube for a condenser operating at pressures of approximately 20 bar and a similarly improved condenser, especially a serpentine condenser.

In accomplishing the objects of the invention, there has been provided according to one aspect of the invention a tube for a condenser operating under pressures of approximately 20 bar, comprising: a cross section having a width that is greater than its height; a substantially flat profile along a width of the tube; and a plurality of flow channels arranged side by side along a width of the tube, wherein the flow channels comprise a substantially round cross section and further comprise a hydraulic diameter of 1.10 to 1.30 mm.

In accordance with an additional aspect of the invention, there is provided a condenser operating under pressures of approximately 20 bar comprising at least one tube for a condenser, wherein the tube comprises a cross section having a width that is greater than its height; a substantially flat profile along a width of the tube; and a plurality of flow channels arranged side by side along a width of the tube, wherein the flow channels comprise a substantially round cross section and further comprise a hydraulic diameter of 1.10 to 1.30 mm.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, there is provided a motor vehicle comprising a condenser operating under pressures of approximately 20 bar comprising at least one tube which comprises a cross section having a width that is greater than its height; a substantially flat profile along a width of the tube; and a plurality of flow channels arranged side by side along a width of the tube, wherein the flow channels comprise a substantially round cross section and further comprise a hydraulic diameter of 1.10 to 1.30 mm.

Further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description of preferred embodiments that follows when considered together with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is explained in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 shows a frontal view of a preferred serpentine condenser according to the invention;

FIG. 2 shows a lateral view from the right hand side of the condenser shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a view from below of the condenser shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 shows a cross section through a preferred tube according to the invention; and

FIG. 5 shows a detail of the right-hand end of the cross section shown in FIG. 4 in a view enlarged 20 fold.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The applicant has found, surprisingly, that a tube of substantially flat cross section and having a plurality of flow channels disposed side by side operates particularly effectively for a condenser operating under pressures of approximately 20 bar if the flow channels are substantially round and have a hydraulic diameter of from 1.10 mm to 1.30 mm. A further advantageous effect is achieved by a tube having flow channels that have a hydraulic diameter of from 1.14 mm to 1.26 mm, and a diameter of from 1.18 mm to 1.22 mm is further preferred. The best results are achieved by a tube having a hydraulic diameter of approximately 1.20 mm.

It has also been found that tubes of flat cross section and having circular flow channels disposed in series operate to particularly advantageous effect in serpentine condesners. This is the case to a particularly notable extent in condensers as described subsequently with reference to the preferred embodiments. This is attributed to the fact the pressure drop over the longer flow paths that generally have to be covered by the refrigerant in serpentine condensers is lower as compared to parallel flow condensers. As a result, larger quantities of refrigerant can be passed through the condenser per unit of time with the same overall expenditure of energy. Furthermore, improved heat transfer is evidently achieved as compared to flow paths in conventional serpentine condensers.

In addition, the production of such tubes is less elaborate and hence more cost-effective, which is particularly significant in mass production. Production takes place by extrusion, for example. The shape of the flow channels may be created by appropriately formed dies. Round dies have proven advantageous, as the delay on cooling is minimal and relatively uniform, and the dies exhibit much less wear than in the case of angular dies. In conventional angular dies, wear takes place especially at the corners.

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a frontal view of a preferred serpentine condenser 20 in the assembled state. This condenser 20 comprises a first header tube 21 and a second header tube 22 which are preferably disposed parallel to one another. In a further preferred aspect, a refrigerant inlet 24 and a refrigerant outlet 25 are connected to the first header tube 21. As the refrigerant enters substantially in a gaseous state and leaves in a liquid state, the refrigerant inlet 24 preferably has a larger cross section than the refrigerant outlet 25. From the refrigerant inlet 24, a feed pipe leads into the upper part (in the view shown) of the first header tube 21. A pressure control valve may advantageously be provided shortly upstream of the entry into the first header tube 21. It is also preferred for an upper part of the header tube 21 to be divided by a partition 27a in the first header tube 21. A plurality of spaced and mutually parallel tubes 10 extend between the first header tube 21 and the second header tube 22. These tubes 10 are connected in a leakproof manner to the interior of the header tubes 21, 22. Indicated at top left in FIG. 1 are cooling fins 23, which may extend between the tubes 10 in a substantially undulating or parallel manner. The tubes have a substantially flat cross section, as will be explained further below. In the view shown in FIG. 1, what is shown is merely the relatively low height of the tubes 10, which have a greater width perpendicularly to the plane of the paper than the height shown (compare also FIG. 4). The cooling fins 23 may each be supported on the flat surfaces of adjacent tubes and are preferably connected thereto, e.g., by brazing. This permits good heat transfer between the tubes 10 and the cooling fins 23 and generally a good structural rigidity of the condenser 20.

The refrigerant located in the upper region of the first header tube 21, which is substantially in gaseous form, flows through a first set of tubes 10a to the second header tube 22. Due to the partition 27a, refrigerant can only flow from the refrigerant inlet 24 through the first set of tubes 10a which are connected to the upper, separate region of the first header tube 21. On the path from the first header tube 21 to the second header tube 22, a first heat exchange takes place between the refrigerant and the cooling medium (e.g., air) flowing perpendicularly to the plane of the paper. Such a condenser is preferably used in automobile air conditioning systems. In this case, air normally flows through the condenser 20, e.g. between the tubes 10 and the cooling fins 23, as a coolant. The structure shown is intended to guarantee the best possible heat transfer between the refrigerant and the coolant. In this manner, a first heat exchange takes place and a first condensation of the refrigerant in the first set of pipes 10a also takes place.

Having arrived in the second header tube 22, the refrigerant is able to flow as far as the first partition 26a in the second header tube 22. Like the partition 27a, this partition 26a forms a barrier for the refrigerant, so that the refrigerant cannot flow downward, in the view shown, beyond the partition 26a in the second header tube 22. Instead, it is forced to flow back through a second set of tubes 10b to the first header tube 21. When this occurs, a further heat exchange and further condensation take place.

A further partition 27b is preferably located in the first header tube 21, which forces the refrigerant through a third set of pipes 10c and once again into the second header tube 22. The refrigerant is then again preferably guided by further partitions 26b in the second header tube and 27c in the first header tube back to the first header tube 21, then to the second header tube 22 and back to the first header tube through a fourth set of pipes 10d, a fifth set of pipes 10e and a sixth set of pipes 10f, respectively. From the bottom region of the first header tube 21, separated by the third partition 27c, a tube then leads to the refrigerant outlet 25.

The description above makes it clear why such a condenser is also known as a “serpentine condenser”. This is, of course, because the refrigerant is guided through the condenser through a plurality of loops or meanders. Thus the path covered by the refrigerant in the condenser, in this exemplary embodiment, is quadrupled relative to a parallel flow condenser, depending on the number of sets of tubes.

Particularly preferred is the embodiment shown with a total of six meanders, which thus allows the refrigerant to flow six times through the effective width of the condenser. It is further preferred for the number of tubes 10 to decrease, or at least remain the same, between a first set of tubes 10a to 10e and a further (second) set of tubes 10b to 10f located adjacently downstream. As a result, a declining circuit or flows path of the tube sets is advantageously achieved.

In a particularly preferred embodiment, the first set of tubes 10a comprises 17 tubes, the second set of tubes 10b 10 tubes, the third set of tubes 10c 7 tubes, the fourth set of tubes 10d 6 tubes, the fifth set of tubes 10e 4 tubes and the sixth set of tubes 10f likewise 4 tubes. The effect of this is that the refrigerant medium, which initially is still predominantly in gaseous form, is given comparatively more surface and cross section for heat exchange than the refrigerant downstream which is increasingly in liquid form.

A heat exchanger according to the invention preferably has a width of from 300 to 1000 mm, particularly preferably from approximately 400 to 700 mm, and even more preferably approximately 560 to 600 mm. The overall height is preferably from 200 to 700 mm, more preferably from 400 to 550 mm and particularly preferably from 460 to 500 mm. An embodiment which is particularly preferred for the abovementioned number of tubes in the individual sets of tubes has an effective end surface of approximately 27.8 dm2, giving an effective width of the condenser through which flow takes place of approximately 580 mm and an effective height of approximately 480 mm. A preferred density of fins is 75 fins per dm. FIG. 1 likewise shows elements for mounting the condenser in the engine compartment of a vehicle. Further details of the elements are not depicted here for the sake of clarity and because these elements are conventional.

In a preferred embodiment, the elements of the condenser explained above are brazed to one another, yellow-chromed and powder-coated in black in order to optimize the heat exchange even further.

As already discussed in the introduction to the description such a condenser is customarily operated at an operating pressure of 20 bar. A preferred embodiment of a tube or flat tube 10 used in such condensers is shown in an enlarged view in FIG. 4. Such a tube preferably has a width of approximately 12 to 20 mm, more preferably 15 to 17 mm and particularly preferably approximately 16 mm. The height h is preferably from 1 to 3 mm, more preferably from 1.5 to 2.1 mm and particularly preferably approximately 1.8 mm. Such external dimensions permit a relatively small end surface of the tube, so that the pressure drop of the air flowing through the condenser does not become too great. On the other hand, the effective surface area is optimized, particularly toward the cooling ribs (the upper and lower outer sides shown in FIG. 4).

FIG. 4 illustrates the flat tube cross section with eleven circular flow channels 11, with webs 12 lying therebetween and with walls 13 formed with the outer flat tube surfaces. A preferred minimum thickness of the webs 12 is S=0.20 mm, and a preferred minimum thickness of the walls 13 is advantageously W=0.30 mm. The flow channels 11 have, according to one preferred embodiment of the invention, a substantially round cross section and a hydraulic diameter of from 1.10 to 1.30 mm. With a circular cross section, the hydraulic diameter corresponds to the diameter of the circle. More preferably, the hydraulic diameter is from 1.14 to 1.26 mm, even more preferably 1.18 mm to 1.22 mm, and most preferably approximately 1.20 mm. It has been found that such a hydraulic diameter permits an optimum, dimensionally conditioned heat transfer, especially when the tube 10 is used in serpentine condensers.

FIG. 5 shows a detail from FIG. 4, in particular the side of the tube 10 facing the cooling air stream. It has been found that with a slope X from the center of the tube to the upper and lower ends, respectively, of the tube and the stated orders of magnitude of approximately 0.3 mm and a radius R of approximately 0.2 mm guarantee an optimum flow pattern of the air coolant. A particularly preferred heat transfer between the outermost flow channel 11 and its front surface is achieved with an effective distance Y from the flow channel 11 to the front surface which is preferably approximately 0.38 mm.

A tube according to the invention is preferably extruded from aluminum or an aluminum alloy. In this case, the round flow channels may be produced by substantially round dies in an extrusion tool. A round form of the flow channels not only permits optimized heat transfer, especially when the tubes are used in serpentine condensers, but also has great advantages in the production of the tubes. The distortion on extrusion is uniform and minimal, and the wear of the circular dies is much less than if dies of an angular contour were to be used, as in the prior art. Thus a plurality of advantages are obtained simultaneously as a result of the shape of the flow channels.

The right of priority is claimed based on German Patent Application No. 100 54 185.5, filed Nov. 2, 2000, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

The foregoing embodiments have been shown for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention which is defined by the claims.