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A Report on


Presented by Group 5, (ChE 411)

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Benin



This report is a review on the thermodynamics principles of airconditioning systems.

Several gas-vapor mixtures are encountered in engineering. The
air water vapor mixture is the most commonly encountered gasvapor mixture in practice. Also, air-conditioning is the primary
application area of air-water-vapor mixtures.
Air is mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and small amounts of other
gases. Air in the atmosphere normally contains some water vapor
(or moisture) and is referred to as atmospheric air (Cengel et al,
1998). By contrast air that contains no water vapor is referred to
as dry air. It is very convenient to treat air as a mixture of water
vapor and dry air since the composition of dry air remains
relatively constant, but the amount of water vapor changes as a
result of condensation and evaporation from oceans, lakes, rivers,
showers, and even the human body. Although the amount of
water vapor in the air is small, it plays a major role in human
comfort. Therefore, it is an important consideration in airconditioning application.
Air-conditioning is a process that simultaneously conditions air,
distribute it combined with the outdoor air to the conditioned
space, and at the same time controls and maintain the required
space temperature, humidity, air cleanliness, air movement,

sound level and pressure differential within pre-determined limits

for the health and comfort of the occupants, for product
processing or both. (Brittanica, 2010)
In the early 20th century, Willis Carrier of Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.,
devised the dew point control, an air-conditioning unit based on
the principle that cooled air reaches saturation and loses moisture
through condensation. Carrier also devised a system (first
installed in 1922 at Graumann's Metropolitan Theater in Los
Angeles) wherein conditioned air was fed from the ceiling and
exhausted at floor level. The first fully air-conditioned office
building, the Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., was
constructed in the late 1920s.
The development of highly-efficient refrigerant gases of low
toxicity known as Freons (carbon compounds containing fluorine
and chlorine or bromine) in the early 1930s was an important
step. By the middle of that decade American railways had
installed small air-conditioning units on their trains, and by 1950
compact units had become practical for use in single rooms. Since
the late 1950s air conditioning has become more common in
developed regions outside the United States.












understanding of the principles of thermodynamics as it applies to

air-conditioning systems.

OBJECTIVES: By studying,
Sensible heating processes, humidifying, cooling and
dehumidifying processes.
Air-conditioning cycles and operating modes.
Heat exchange between the human body




Human beings have an inherent weaknessthey want to feel
comfortable. They want to live in an environment that is neither
hot nor cold, neither humid nor dry. However, comfort does not
come easily since the desires of the human body and the weather
usually are not quite compatible. Achieving comfort requires a
constant struggle against the factors that cause discomfort, such
as high or low temperatures and high or low humidity. As
engineers, it is our duty to help people feel comfortable (Cengel
et al, 1998).
It did not take long for people to realize that they could not
change the weather in an area. All they can do is change it in a
confined space such as a house or a workplace. In the past, this
was partially accomplished by fire and simple indoor heating
systems. Today, modern air-conditioning systems can heat, cool,
humidify, dehumidify, clean, and even deodorize the airin other
words, condition the air to peoples desires. Air-conditioning
systems are designed to satisfy the needs of the human body;
therefore, it is essential that we understand the thermodynamic
aspects of the body. Air conditioning can be defined as the control

of temperature, humidity, purity, and motion of air in an enclosed

space, independent of outside conditions.

The methods/process to be employed in this study is to examine
1. To examine the thermodynamics of the human body as it
relates to its heat exchange with the environment.
2. To examine the air-conditioning process itself.
3. To elaborate on
the different types of air-conditioning
4. To determine and the coefficient of performance of airconditioners and examine ways in which it can be improved

Thermodynamics of the human body
The human body can be viewed as a heat engine whose energy
input is food. As with any other heat engine, the human body
generates waste heat that must be rejected to the environment if
the body is to continue operating. The rate of heat generation
depends on the level of the activity. For an average adult male, it
is about 87 W when sleeping, 115 W when resting or doing office
work, 230 W when bowling, and 440 W when doing heavy
physical work. The corresponding numbers for an adult female are
about 15 percent less. (This difference is due to the body size, not
the body temperature. The deep-body temperature of a healthy
person is maintained constant at about 37C.) A body will feel

comfortable in environments in which it can dissipate this waste

heat comfortably.
Heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference.
Therefore in cold environments, a body loses more heat than it
normally generates, which results in a feeling of discomfort. The
body tries to minimize the energy deficit by cutting down the
blood circulation near the skin (causing a pale look). This lowers
the skin temperature, which is about 34C for an average person,
and thus the heat transfer rate. A low skin temperature causes
discomfort. The hands, for example, feel painfully cold when the
skin temperature reaches 10C (50F). We can also reduce the
heat loss from the body either by putting barriers (additional
clothes, blankets, etc.) in the path of heat or by increasing the
rate of heat generation within the body by exercising. For
example, the comfort level of a resting person dressed in warm
winter clothing in a room at 10C (50F) is roughly equal to the
comfort level of an identical person doing moderate work in a
room at about 23C (10F). Or we can just cuddle up and put our
hands between our legs to reduce the surface area through which
heat flows.
In hot environments, we have the opposite problemwe do not
seem to be dissipating enough heat from our bodies, and we feel
as if we are going to burst. We dress lightly to make it easier for
heat to get away from our bodies, and we reduce the level of
activity to minimize the rate of waste heat generation in the body.
We also turn on the fan to continuously replace the warmer air
layer that forms around our bodies as a result of body heat by the

cooler air in other parts of the room. When doing light work or
walking slowly, about half of the rejected body heat is dissipated
through perspiration as latent heat while the other half is
dissipated through convection and radiation as sensible heat.
When resting or doing office work, most of the heat (about 70
percent) is dissipated in the form of sensible heat whereas when
doing heavy physical work, most of the heat (about 60 percent) is
dissipated in the form of latent heat. The body helps out by
perspiring or sweating more. As this sweat evaporates, it absorbs
latent heat from the body and cools it. Perspiration is not much
help, however, if the relative humidity of the environment is close
to 100 percent. Prolonged sweating without any fluid intake
causes dehydration and reduced sweating, which may lead to a
rise in body temperature and a heat stroke. Another important
factor that affects human comfort is heat transfer by radiation
between the body and the surrounding surfaces such as walls and
windows. The suns rays travel through space by radiation. You
warm up in front of a fire even if the air between you and the fire
is quite cold. Likewise, in a warm room you feel chilly if the ceiling
or the wall surfaces are at a considerably lower temperature. This
is due to direct heat transfer between your body and the
surrounding surfaces by radiation. Radiant heaters are commonly
used for heating hard-to-heat places such as car repair shops.
The comfort of the human body depends primarily on






humidity, and air motion. The temperature of the environment

is the single most important index of com-fort. Most people feel
comfortable when the environment temperature is between 22

and 27C (72 and 80F). The relative humidity also has a
considerable effect on comfort since it affects the amount of heat
a body can dissipate through evaporation. Relative humidity is a
measure of airs ability to absorb more moisture. High relative
humidity slows down heat rejection by evaporation, and low
relative humidity speeds it up. Most people prefer a relative
humidity of 40 to 60 percent. Air motion also plays an important
role in human comfort. It removes the warm, moist air that builds
up around the body and replaces it with fresh air. Therefore, air








evaporation. Air motion should be strong enough to remove heat

and moisture from the vicinity of the body, but gentle enough to
be unnoticed. Most people feel comfortable at airspeed of about
15 m/min. Very-high-speed air motion causes discomfort instead
of comfort. For example, an environment at 10C (50F) with 48
km/h winds feels as cold as an environment at 7C (20F) with 3
km/h winds as a result of the body-chilling effect of the air motion
(the wind-chill factor). Other factors that affect comfort are air
cleanliness, odour, noise, and radiation effect.

Outline of the air-conditioning process

In a simple air conditioner, the refrigerant, in a volatile liquid
form, is passed through a set of evaporator coils across which air
inside the room is passed. The refrigerant evaporates and, in the
process, absorbs the heat contained in the air. When the cooled
air reaches its saturation point, its moisture content condenses on
fins placed over the coils. The water runs down the fins and

drains. The cooled and dehumidified air is returned into the room
by means of a blower.
In the meantime the vaporized refrigerant passes into a
compressor where it is pressurized and forced through condenser
coils, which are in contact with outside air. Under these conditions
the refrigerant condenses back into a liquid form and gives off the
heat it absorbed inside. This heated air is expelled to the outside,
and the liquid recirculates to the evaporator coils to continue the
cooling process. In some units the two sets of coils can reverse
functions so that in winter, the inside coils condense the
refrigerant and heat rather than cool the room. Such a unit is
known as a heat pump.
Alternate systems of cooling include the use of chilled water.
Water may be cooled by refrigerant at a central location and run
through coils at other places. In some large factories a version of
the earlier air-washer systems is still used to avoid the massive
amount of coils needed otherwise. Water may be sprayed over
glass fibres and air blown through it. Dehumidification is achieved
in some systems by passing the air through silica gel which
absorbs the moisture, and in others, liquid absorbents cause
The design of air-conditioning systems takes many circumstances
into consideration. A self-contained unit, described above, serves
a space directly. More complex systems, as in tall buildings, use
ducts to deliver cooled air. In the induction system, air is cooled
once at a central plant and then conveyed to individual units,

where water is used to adjust the air temperature according to

such variables as sunlight exposure and shade. In the dual-duct
system, warm air and cool air travel through separate ducts and
are mixed to reach a desired temperature. A simpler way to
control temperature is to regulate the amount of cold air supplied,
cutting it off once a desired temperature is reached. This method,
known as variable air volume, is widely used in both high-rise and
low-rise commercial or institutional buildings.
Distribution of air is a concern because direct exposure to the cool
air may cause discomfort. In some cases, cooled air needs to be
slightly reheated before it is blown back into a room. One popular
method of distribution is the ceiling diffuser, from which air is
blown out along the ceiling level and allowed to settle down. The
linear diffuser brings air through a plenum box or duct with a
rectangular opening; louvers divert the down-flowing air. Other
units are circular, and their fins radiate the air. Some ceilings are
perforated to allow passage of cool air, and other ceilings are
simply cooled so that basic ventilation can circulate the cool air.
Types of Air-Conditioning Systems
1. Individual Room or Individual Systems; This is an individual
air-conditioning system which normally employs either a






(installed in a window or through a wall) or separate indoor

and outdoor units to serve an individual room
2. Space-Conditioning Systems or Space Systems;


systems have their air-conditioning cooling, heating, and








conditioned space
3. Central Hydronic or Central Systems; A central system uses
chilled water or hot water from a central plant to cool and
heat the air at the coils in an air handling unit (AHU).
4. Packaged Air Systems; An air system is also called an air
handling system or the air side of an air-conditioning or
HVAC&R system. Its function is to condition the air, distribute








requirements. (Air-conditioning and Refrigeration by Wang

s.k and Lavan .z, 1999)
The Coefficient of Performance
To aid in discussing the alternative technologies, it is helpful to
have a basic description of how air conditioning systems work.
Heat normally flows from hot regions to cold regions. To reverse
this process in a system and move heat from a low temperature
region to a higher temperature region requires that work be done
on the system (this statement is a form of the second law of






essentially the same in that the objective of their design and use
is to utilize work to move heat from a cooled space and reject it to















performance (COP). Somewhat analogous to the efficiency of an

engine, it is defined as

In words, the COP is the dimensionless ratio of how much

heat is transferred out of the cooled space to the amount
of work that is used to accomplish this task. Note that,
unlike engine efficiency, the COP can be larger than unity. Higher
values are better, indicating that more heat is removed for a
given amount of work. COP is usually dependent on operating
conditions, such as the temperatures of the cooled space and the
hot space to which heat is to be rejected.

Heat normally flows from hot regions to cold regions. To reverse
this process in a system and move heat from a low temperature
region to a higher temperature region requires that work be done
on the system (this statement is a form of the second law of
thermodynamics) (Forest et al, 2002). Air conditioners and
refrigerators are essentially the same in that the objective of their
design and use is to utilize work to move heat from a cooled
space and reject it to a hot space.










Chicago: Encyclopdia Britannica, 2010.







conditioning Part 1 By Brian tracy (2010) senior training

manager, KE2cherm solutions inc.
California environmental protection agency air resources







regarding reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from motor

vehicles titled Air Conditioning Thermodynamics.






System, SAE 2002-01-0229, W. O. Forrest and M. S. Bhatti

Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach, Third

Edition, WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1998, Yunus A. Cengel and
Michael A. Boles