Numerical simulation of combined screw compressor–expander machines for use in high pressure refrigeration systems

Authors: Kovačević A, Stošić N, Smith I
Where published:Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory

Recent interest in natural refrigerants has created a new impetus for studies of CO2 as a working fluid in vapour compression systems for refrigeration and air conditioning. Two major drawbacks to its use are the very high pressure differences required across the compressor and the large efficiency losses associated with the throttling process in the refrigeration cycle. It is shown how these disadvantages can be minimised by the use of a screw machine both to compress the gas and use the expansion process to recover power. Both these functions can be performed simultaneously, using only one pair of rotors, in a configuration that partially balances out the forces induced by the pressure difference and hence, reduces the bearing loads to an acceptable level. A further feature is the use of rotors, which seal on both contacting surfaces so that the same profile may be used for the expander and the compressor sections. This enables the rotors performing both these functions to be machined or ground in the same cutting operation and then separated by machining a parting slot in them. Computational Continuum Mechanics comprising both, fluid flow and structural analysis is used in this paper for the investigation of fluid-solid interaction in such machines.

Keywords: screw expander , Computational Fluid Dynamics , mathematical modelling , refrigeration , screw compressor