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Vortex Tube

Vortex Tube

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Published by Prasad Patil

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Published by: Prasad Patil on Nov 03, 2012
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Vortex Tube
Separation of a compressed gas into a hot stream and a cold stream
 The vortex tube, also known as the Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube, is a mechanical device thatseparates a compressed gas into hot and cold streams. It has no moving parts.Pressurized gas is injected tangentially into a swirl chamber and accelerates to a high rate of rotation. Due to the conical nozzle at the end of the tube, only the outer shell of thecompressed gas is allowed to escape at that end. The remainder of the gas is forced to returnin an inner vortex of reduced diameter within the outer vortex.There are different explanations for the effect and there is debate on which explanation is bestor correct.What is usually agreed upon is that the air in the tube experiences mostly "solid bodyrotation", which simply means the rotation rate (angular velocity) of the inner gas is the sameas that of the outer gas. This is different from what most consider standard vortex behaviour--where inner fluid spins at a higher rate than outer fluid. The (mostly) solid body rotation isprobably due to the long time which each parcel of air remains in the vortex--allowingfriction between the inner parcels and outer parcels to have a notable effect.It is also usually agreed upon that there is a slight effect of hot air wanting to "rise" towardthe center, but this effect is negligible--especially if turbulence is kept to a minimum.One simple explanation is that the outer air is under higher pressure than the inner air(because of centrifugal force). Therefore the temperature of the outer air is higher than that of the inner air.Another explanation is that as both vortices rotate at the same angular velocity and direction,the inner vortex has lost angular momentum. The decrease of angular momentum istransferred as kinetic energy to the outer vortex, resulting in separated flows of hot and coldgas.[1]This is somewhat analogous to a Peltier effect device, which uses electrical pressure (voltage)to move heat to one side of a dissimilar metal junction, causing the other side to grow cold.
When used to refrigerate, heat-sinking the whole vortex tube is helpful. Vortex tubes can alsobe cascaded. The cold (or hot) output of one can be used to pre-cool (or pre-heat) the airsupply to another vortex tube. Cascaded tubes can be used, for example, to produce cryogenictemperatures.
 The vortex tube was invented in 1933 by French physicist Georges J. Ranque. Germanphysicist Rudolf Hilsch improved the design and published a widely read paper in 1947 onthe device, which he called a Wirbelrohr (literally, whirl pipe).[2] Vortex tubes also seem towork with liquids to some extent.[3]
 Vortex tubes have lower efficiency than traditional air conditioning equipment. They arecommonly used for inexpensive spot cooling, when compressed air is available. Commercialmodels are designed for industrial applications to produce a temperature drop of about 45 °C(80 °F).
Proposed applications
 * Dave Williams, of dissigno, has proposed using vortex tubes to make ice in third-worldcountries. Although the technique is inefficient, Williams expressed hope that vortex tubescould yield helpful results in areas where using electricity to create ice is not an option.* There are industrial applications that result in unused pressurized gases. Using vortex tubeenergy separation may be a method to recover waste pressure energy from high and lowpressure sources.[4]
 1. ^ exair.com - Vortex tube theory -- http://www.exair.com/Cultures/en-US/Primary+Navigation/Products/Vortex+Tubes+and+Spot+Cooling/Vortex+Tubes/A+Phenomenon+of+Physics2. ^ *Rudolf Hilsch, The Use of the Expansion of Gases in A Centrifugal Field as CoolingProcess, The Review of Scientific Instruments, vol. 18(2), 108-1113, (1947). translation of anarticle in Zeit. Naturwis. 1 (1946) 208.3. ^ R.T. Balmer. Pressure-driven Ranque-Hilsch temperature separation in liquids. Trans.ASME, J. Fluids Engineering, 110:161
164, June 1988.4. ^ Sachin U. Nimbalkar, Dr.M.R. Muller. Utilizing waste pressure in industrial systems.Energy: production, distribution and conservation, ASME-ATI 2006, Milan
General references
 * G. Ranque, Expériences sur la Détente Giratoire avec Productions Simultanées d'unEchappement d'air Chaud et d'un Echappement d'air Froid, J. de Physique et Radium4(7)(1933) 112S.* H. C. Van Ness, Understanding Thermodynamics, New York: Dover, 1969, starting onpage 53. A discussion of the vortex tube in terms of conventional thermodynamics.* Mark P. Silverman, And Yet it Moves: Strange Systems and Subtle Questions in Physics,
Cambridge, 1993, Chapter 6* C. L. Stong, The Amateur Scientist, London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, 1962,Chapter IX, Section 4, The "Hilsch" Vortex Tube, p514-519.* J. J. Van Deemter, On the Theory of the Ranque-Hilsch Cooling Effect, Applied ScienceResearch 3, 174-196.* Saidi, M.H. and Valipour, M.S., "Experimental Modeling of Vortex Tube Refrigerator", J.of Applied Thermal Engineering, Vol.23, pp.1971-1980, 2003.* M. Kurosaka, Acoustic Streaming in Swirling Flow and the Ranque-Hilsch (vortex-tube)Effect, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 1982, 124:139-172* M. Kurosaka, J.Q. Chu, J.R. Goodman, Ranque-Hilsch Effect Revisited: TemperatureSeparation Traced to Orderly Spinning Waves or 'Vortex Whistle', Paper AIAA-82-0952presented at the AIAA/ASME 3rd Joint Thermophysics Conference (June 1982)* Gao, Chengming. Experimental Study on the Ranque-Hilsch Vortex Tube. Eindhoven :Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. ISBN 90-386-2361-5.
See also
 * Windhexe* Helikon vortex separation process
External links
 * G. J. Ranque's U.S. Patent --
 * airtxinternational.com - AiRTX International, how vortex tubes work --
 * Tim Cockerill's pages on the Ranque-Hilsch Vortex Tube, including his 1995 CambridgeUniversity thesis on the subject, and a mailing list. --
 * How to Make Ice Out of Thin Air: Cool Heat Transfer, Daren Fonda, Sep. 4, 2005, TimeMagazine. (Requires membership) --
 * Oberlin college physics demo --
 * itwvortec.com - Manufacturer of vortex tubes, information page --
 * The Hilsch Vortex Tube - Online copy of the Scientific American article by C. L. Stong --
 * Home-brew vortex tube made from off-the-shelf parts - David Buchan's Ranque-Hilscheffect tube project using only off-the-shelf plumbing parts --

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