Solar Energy Vol. 22, pp. 149.

-154
© Pergamon Press Ltd., 1979. Printed in Great Britain

0038--092X/7910201-0149l$02.0010

DESIGN AND OPTIMISATION OF AN ABSORPTION
REFRIGERATION SYSTEM OPERATED BY SOLAR ENERGY
S. ALIZADEH,F. BAHARand F. GEOOLA
Materials and Energy Research Centre, Aryamehr University of Tech. P.O. Box 41-2927, Tehran Iran.
(Received 10 March 1978; revision accepted 14 August 1978)
Abstract--A general theoretical study on design and optimisationof the water-lithium bromide and the ammoniawater absorption refrigerationcycles has been undertaken. The results of this study show that in general for fixed
initial conditions and given system refrigerationcapacity higher generator temperature causes higher cooling ratio
with smaller heat exchange surfaces and consequently lower cost. A comparison of the two cycles also indicate
that the water-lithium bromide system is simpler than the ammonia-watersystem and operates at a higher cooling
ratio and smaller heat exchange surfaces for the same conditions.

For the ammonia-water cycle

I. INTRODUCTION

Theoretical studies of the performance of absorption
refrigeration cycles including those using water-lithium
bromide and ammonia-water as refrigerant-absorbent
combinations have already been reported by various
authors[l-3]. In this paper further theoretical studies
have been performed considering in particular the design
and optimisation of an absorption refrigeration cycle
operated by solar energy. The water-lithium bromide and
ammonia-water refrigerant-absorbent combinations
were chosen for this study because of their extensive use
in absorption refrigeration systems especially those
operated by solar energy.

(2)
=l(h~-hw)+hw+(RYr

in which R is the circulation factor defined as
R = yr - y,
y~ - y,

2. CYCLE ANALYSIS

SE Vol. 22, No. 2--0

(I)

(3)

where yr is the weight concentration of lithium bromide
or ammonia in the refrigerant vapour leaving the generator (for water-lithium bromide system y, = 0), y, is the
weight concentration of the weak solution (weak in
refrigerant) leaving the generator and ys is the weight
concentration of the strong solution leaving the absorber.
The subscripts in eqns (I) and (2) refer to the states
represented in Figs. 1 and 2, respectively. Equations (1)
and (2) have been evaluated for a number of generator
temperatures with evaporator temperature of 1.7°C,
condenser temperature of 35°C and absorber temperature
of 21°C.

The design and optimisation of the performance of an
absorption refrigeration cycle depends mostly on the
existing initial conditions. For example, the temperature
of the evaporator is fixed and as a result the low-side
pressure of the cycle is fixed and could be specified. Two
other fixed parameters are the condenser and absorber
temperatures. It has been shown that[l] the cooling ratio,
defined as the ratio of the energy removed from the
surroundings during the refrigeration phase to that
supplied to the generator during the regeneration phase,
increases as the condenser and absorber temperatures
decrease. In systems using a water cooled condenser and
absorber these two temperatures depend on the
temperature of the available cooling water. After the
temperatures of the evaporator, the condenser and the
absorber have been identified the generator temperature
has to be determined. This is the last and the most
important parameter which must be specified, because
unlike the other three temperatures of the cycle this
depends on other factors. If the cooling ratio of the
system is considered against other variables of the cycle
the following approximate relations can be derived for
the two cycles (see Figs. 1 and 2).
For the water-lithium bromide cycle
h/,
7/= h7 + (R - l)h4 - Rh3"

l)h,-Rh7

3. EFFECTS OF USING SENSIBLE HEAT EXCHANGERS

If sensible heat exchangers are used between the absorber and the generator for both the water-lithium
bromide and the ammonia-water systems so that the
strong solution leaving the absorber is heated by the
weak solution leaving the generator, the temperature rise
of the strong solution A Ts, is given by the following
equation
(4)

AT~ = F(x, k)bT,,

in which ATmisthe maximum temperature difference in
the heat exchanger and F ( x , k ) i s the heat exchanger
effectiveness defined as
b eX((l/k)-°-

l

F(x, k) = ~ eX~,lk~_,_ k

(5)

where x is the heat exchanger parameter given by the
149

71y +4." Fig. The other variable in eqn (5) is the generator temperature parameter. k. vapour Condenser t (7) j ] Strong Generator i • solution / (3) J (Solar energy) 0G (4) Weak solution (8) . valve I IO ( oJ Fig. The Co -.150 S.3.18 (9) where y is the weight concentration of lithium bromide or ammonia in the mixture. relation specific heat of a solution of water-lithium bromide is approximately given by x UA = __~pms'-- (6) in which the subscript s refers to the strong solution.I Solution heat exchanger (2) Exp. 1. Refrig. ALIZADEHet al. The cooling ratio has been plotted against the generator temperature for different values of the heat exchanger parameter in Figs. 5 Reflux condenser 6[< Condenser I / tw % Generator ~ 0 G(Solar energy) Solution heat exchanger Absorber Exp.61 o. Schematic of the ammonia-water system. (G)] 1 Evaporator f I [Ab=b7 (. 2. and is defined as Cps (7) where Cpo is the specific heat of the weak solution.09y + 4.18 (8) and for ammonia-water solution Cp = 0. 5 and 6 .. Schematic of the water-lithium bromide system.

7 *C ? 85 E _P=___4zmm h~ 8 ~ / ~D 35 J I0 04 05 06 L i t h i u m bromide.Design and optimisationof an absorption refrigerationsystem operated by solar energy 151 IIO / /f Tc = 3 5 *C TE = 1. Duflie and Sheridan[5] have shown that the UA value for the exchanger could be approximated by UA = 379 m ~13 (10) where mo is the mass flow rate of the weak solution and the value of the constant 379 has been determined from experimental values of mass flow m. Thermodynamic path for the water-lithium bromide cycle. Thermodynamic path for the ammonia-water cycle. the evaporator and . as follows: x = B [C(R CR I)]'/3 (II) In the above relation B is a constant which depends on the temperatures of the condenser.55 065 060 wl % Fig. and circulation factor. By application of eqn (10) the heat exchanger parameter can be expressed as a function of the system refrigeration capacity. 075 07 wl % Fig. The sensible heat exchangers between the fluid streams entering and leaving the generator should transfer the maximum amount of heat consistent with economy of construction. The thermodynamic paths of the two cycles have also been shown by the solid lines in Figs.. 0.. 4. 3 and 4. 3. C.7 *C Iio . The value of x = pc in Figs. Assuming streamline flow for the weak solution in the heat exchanger (this can usually be done by selecting the proper diameter for the exchanger tube) it can be shown that [4] the value of UA for the exchanger is proportional to the cube root of the mass flow rate of the weak solution. 5 and 6 could actually be considered as heat exchanger parameters above 10.50 Ammonia.. R.o/3 P E 8o o 50 - 20 035 i - 040 045 0. By applying various simplifications. for both the water-lithium bromide and the ammoniawater cycles. 140 Tc = 3 5 "C TE = 1.

This places a lower bound for the generator temperature because as the circulation factor increases the mass flow rates in the system also increase and this suggests larger heat exchange surfaces and therefore a higher cost. Another limiting feature is that producing very high temperatures with flat plate solar collectors is difficult. 7 and 8. the generator and the solution heat exchanger) and higher cooling ratio.8 07-- 0. i i °C ~ .7°C. These figures show that as the generator temperature decreases the circulation factor increases for a given C.. . Therefore x can be plotted vs the generator temperature for different values of C as in Figs.152 S. the flat plate collector area required for producing I kJ hr-' for an average horizontal insolation of 3046kJhr-' m -2 is . ¢.- .6 and for the ammonia-water case it has a value of 16.5---0 . = 1 90 9~ °C G e n e r a t o r temp. Cooling ratio as a function of generator temperature for the water-lithium bromide system._0 0. 0. Fig. higher generator temperature causes lower cost (because of lower mass flow rates in the absorber. x in eqn (11) is a function of the generator temperature for a specified value of C. .. 5-8 it can be seen that for a given refrigeration capacity. Cooling ratio as a function of generator temperature for the ammonia-water system.2 0.. .. If a temperature difference of 8°C is assumed between the average temperature of the collector surface and the generator temperature for heat transfer purposes.. the constant B for water-lithium bromide case is 46. 7. @__ -r --÷ = j i o~ i i. =C Fig.. For evaporator temperature of 1. condenser temperature of 35°C and absorber temperature of 21°C. ALIZADEH et aL 09 ! 0. Heat exchanger parameter as a function of generator temperature for the ammonia-water system. Fig. 0.1.. 120 t30 140 °C 60 70 80 90 I00 I10 120 130 140 Generator temp.4 U i .7 % T~ = 35 °c t i i 70 80 90 I00 Generator I I0 temp._~ 8 0. "r" TE=I. 5. 8.8 °C Fig. Since R is a function of the generator temperature only when other conditions of the system are fixed.6 I .. m 0.o I i I o. the absorber and it also varies from refrigerant to refrigerant.2 .. ~ [ To 75 80 J Generator i 1 8~ temp..9 04 (J Q3 I/! . In general from Figs.1 i l O3 60 J ~ .7 J X=I p 05 . Heat exchanger parameter as a function of generator temperature for the water-lithium bromide system. 6. There are of course limitations for high generator temperature one of which is the crystallization problem in the case of water-lithium bromide when the generator temperature becomes too high.

In design and optimisation of the performance of an absorption refrigeration system the most important variable which has to be taken into account is the temperature of the generator because the other parameters of the system depend on the existing initial conditions and consequently are fixed. Also from Figs. Also. = 12660 h-~I~' (14) 0. the water-lithium bromide system has a higher heat exchanger parameter.1 and the collector tilt angle is 300 at 40° North Lat. can be shown to be 60 per cent higher (see Appendix).1 and the collector tilt angle is 30° at 40o North Lat. in which mr is the refrigerant mass flow rate represented by the equation u. or A. Collector area as a function of generator temperature for the ammonia-water system. then the system could be designed for this generator temperature and the collector area required is determined from Figs. 8] show that the water-lithium bromide system has a higher cooling ratio for the same initial conditions. By eqn (11). and this produces a lower bound for the generator temperature. 4. The flat plate collector is assumed to have a surface emissivity of 0. = (1. Determination of the generator temperature is influenced by several factors. R. 95 Fig. C O N C L U S I O N S 2 % o" 8 O GecN~'amr ten'@. 10. then the total . 7-10.2 .. is calculated and from that the mass flow rate of the strong solution. m~.4 flat plate collector area required. The system can now be designed for the obtained values of mr and m~.1 . (12) where AI is the collector area required for producing one kJ hr-'.9 I: 0. .Design and optimisation of an absorption refrigeration system operated by solar energy plotted vs the generator temperature for different heat exchanger parameters in Figs. 7 and 8 it is clear that for the same generator temperature and system refrigeration capacity. 9 and 10. Assuming that 20 per cent of total refrigeration has to be delivered during the time in which there is no available solar energy. a very high generator temperature is not possible with flat plate collectors.I z *c r~=3~*c 116 i I5 ~ I H~j/= 3046 kJ hr-' m-2 . then an auxilliary heater could be used to increase the generator temperature up to the lower limit. Increasing the flat plate collector area by 60 per cent requires the use of a storage system to store the 20 per cent of refrigeration in the form of heat or refrigerant for the time when there is no available solar energy[6]. A. 0 ~ . One of these is economic considerations when the generator temperature becomes too low. A comparison of the two systems described briefly in this paper and in more detail elsewhere [7. Another limiting feature in the case of waterlithium bromide cycle is the crystallization which occurs when the generator temperature becomes too high.- ! 1. The collector surface emissivity is 0.1 with a 30° tilt angle at 40° North Lat. If the design generator temperature is assumed to be 8°C below the average temperature of collector surface. 9 and 10.- -- m.. Collector area as a function of generator temperature for the water-lithium bromide system. *C 90 . .8 ! i i i : rAlal *c re. The collector surface emissivity is 0.60)(12660)CAf 1. knowing x and C the circulation factor. *C Fig. 9. This should be avoided by placing an upper limit on the generator temperature. A comparison of the two cycles also show that the water-lithium bromide system is simpler than the ammonia-water system and operates at a higher cooling ratio and heat exchanger parameter for the same conditions. is determined from the following relation ms = R m r ~ 153 (13) .8-- Ol~55 I I ] 60 - 65 -- i 70 75 80 85 Generotor ten'@. . Once the generator temperature has been specified the heat exchanger parameter and the fiat plate collector area required are known from Figs. If the generator temperature taken as the average temperature of collector -8°C is below the lower bound previously indicated for the generator temperature.

Internal Rep. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1959). kJ kg-~ enthalpy of vaporization. Bahar and F. J. 137 (1968).Sc. R. E. A. 4. Tehran. 1/3(12660C)(24) D (Al) in which D is the daily total refrigeration in kJm -2 day -~ obtained from the flat plate collectors. V. Australia (1965). Consequently the collector area required is AI Subscripts a A C E ]" m r s t v w weak solution absorber condenser evaporator fiat plate collector maximum refrigerant strong solution total vapour saturated water REFERENCES I. C. Utilisation of solar energy for air conditioning. Heat Transmission. The theoretical performance of the lithium bromide-water intermittent absorption refrigeration cycle. Solar Energy 17. Theoretical performance of an ammonia sodium thiocyanate intermittent absorption refrigeration cycle. mz system capacity. 2. 143 (1962). Development of a computer package for the design of a water-lithium bromide absorption refrigeration system utilising solar energy. des temp6ratures plus 61ev6es du g6n6rateur aboutissent h des refroidissements plus 61ev6s avec une surface plus petite des 6changeurs. B. 7. Bahar and F. C Cp F HAy h h!~ K m p R T AT U x y NOMENCLATURE heat exchanger area. done fi un cofit moins 61ev6. McAdams. Une comparaison des deux syst6mes montre que le syst6me eau-bromure de lithium est plus simple que le syst6me eau-ammoniaque. Lithium bromide-water refrigerators for solar operation. F. °C temperature difference.O. R6sum6--Une 6tude sur la fabrication et l'optimization des cycles de refroidissement par absorption a 6t6 entreprise sur des syst6mes eau-bromure de lithium et eau-ammoniaque. Box 41-2927. Performance of an intermittent refrigerator operated by a flat-plate collector. APPENDIX If the refrigeration load occurs mostly during daytime. Box 41-2927. New York (1954). kj hr-I m-2OC-I heat exchanger parameter lithium bromide or ammonia weight per cent cooling ratio 6. since it has to be supplied for only about 8 out of 24 hr. 5. F. P. Sargent and W. = 1/3(12660C)(24) + 0. pp. Geoola. Chemical Engineering Department.20(12660C)(24) D (A2) Dividing eqn (A2) by eqn (AI) we obtain At _ 1/3+0. Iran. Internal Rep. Chinnappa. Materials and Energy Research Centre. refrigeration ton = 12660 LI hr -~ specific heat.20 . Les r~sultats de cette 6tude montrent que si on fixe les conditions initiales et la capacit6 de r6frig6ration. Sheridan. P. Solar Energy 6. A. la temperatura mils alta del generador causa un radio mis alto de enfriamiento con menor cambio de superficies de calory consecuentemente menor costo.O. 10100/06. ALIZADEHet al. 229235. Mech. S. Los resultados de este estudio muestran queen general para condiciones iniciales fijas y sistema dado de capacidad de refrigeraci6n. the Institution of Engineers. (A5) . thesis. then for C tons of refrigeration capacity roughly l J3 of the actual amount of refrigeration is necessary.. 10/00107.60 or Af = 1. Tehran. Materials and Energy Research Centre. Duffie and N.. J. then the total flat plate collector area required is A. Solar Energy 12.60)(12660)CA! which is the same as eqn (12) in the text. Reti. S. donne des refroidissements plus 61ev6s et n¢cessite de plus petites surfaces d'6changeurs duns les mimes conditions. L. R. m 2 flat plate collector area. Iran. 154 A A! A. Geoola. 3rd Edn. and Chem. 8. Perry. LI kg -~ generator temperature parameter mass flow rate. By substituting for AI from eqn (A4) into eqn (A3) we obtain A. A. kJ hr -~ m -z enthalpy. Development of a computer package for the design of an ammonia-water absorption refrigeration system utilising solar energy. Resumen--Un estudio general te6rico ha sido hecho sobre disefio y mejora de los ciclos de absorci6n refrigerativa de agua-bromido de litio y amonia-agua. William H. Engng Trans. = (I. H. kghrpressure circulation factor temperature. 3. If 20 per cent of the refrigeration has to be delivered during the time in which there is no available solar energy. Alizadeh. 321 (1975). kJ kg-I °C-I heat exchanger effectiveness average horizontal insolation.= Ai 1/3 1. S. 9 and 10. Beckman. Alizadeh.S. m2kJ-t hr total flat plate collector area.60 A~ (A3) The following relation can also be written A~ = (12660)CA: (A4) in which A! is the flat plate collector area required for producing one kJhr -Z and can be obtained from Figs.°C overall heat transfer coefficient of heat exchanger. McGraw-Hill. Una comparaci6n de los dos ciclos tambi6n indica que el sistema de agua-bromido de litio es mils simple que el sistema de amonia-agua y opera en un radio de enfriamiento mils alto y menor cambio de superficies de calor para las mismas condiciones.