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Computer Simulation of an Automobile Air-Conditioner

with Ambient Temperature Effects
Saad N. Shehab
Mechanical Engineering Department
College of Engineering Al-Mustansiriya

Theoretical and experimental studies were conducted to
analyze and simulate the performance of instrumented automobile
air-conditioner , using R134a as a working refrigerant . The
experimental work was carried out on an available automobile airconditioner unit with ambient temperature effects on the cycle
performance .
A computer program is constructed to analyze , and simulate
the working and performance of instrumented automobile airconditioner with the effect of ambient temperature on the
performance of compressor , condenser , condensing unit ,
evaporator , and complete refrigeration cycle . The experimental
performance equations of the compressor , condenser , and
evaporator are used in the mathematical simulation .
The comparison between the mathematical model and
experimental results of refrigeration load , compressor work ,
condenser load , and coefficient of performance for different ambient
temperatures showed a good agreement .



. R134a



1. Introduction
Refrigeration cycles transfer thermal energy from a region of
low temperature to one of higher temperature , usually the higher
temperature heat sink is the ambient air or cooling water [1] .
The refrigeration system components may be classified into
two groups , the first is hard parts , and the second is transmitted
medium (refrigerant) . The hard parts consist of major components:
compressor , condenser , evaporator or cooling coils , and expansion
valve or capillary tube , and accessories parts such as liquid receiver ,
check valve ,etc. Refrigerants are the working fluid in refrigeration ,
air-conditioning , and heat pumping systems . They absorb heat from
one area , such as an air-conditioned space , and reject it into another
, such as outdoor , usually through evaporation and condensation ,
respectively .
Hamilton and Miller (1990) [2] presented a general steadystate model for simulating components of an air conditioning system .
The model depends on functional fit of manufactures performance
catalogue data of the individual components , along with the
thermodynamics relationships used for modeling of the airconditioning cycle . Hussain (1998) [3] developed a computational
model for vapor compression cycle of a simple refrigeration cycle
that could yield accurate prediction using chlorofluorocarbons and
hydrocarbons refrigerants . Hazim (2000) [4] theoretically studied the
component matching of the mixed vapor-compression cycle .
SANDEN compressors corporation [5] , tested different sizes of
automotive compressors using R134a with varying speeds (from 1000
to 3000 rpm) . Many other researches dealt with the prediction of
thermal design of the refrigeration cycle such as Sadler (2000) [6] ,
Mustafa (2006) [7] , and Saeed (2006) [8] .

2. VaporCompression Refrigeration System



The ideal vaporcompression refrigeration cycle shown in

Fig. (1) uses a refrigerant to absorb and reject heat energy . The
energy transfer allows the vaporcompression cycle to cool a closed
environment . The actual refrigeration cycle deviates from the ideal
cycle primarily because of pressure drops associated with fluid flow
and heat transfers occur between the refrigerant and its environment
in all components .
Performance of a refrigeration cycle is usually described by a
coefficient of performance (COP).Coefficient of performance is
defined as the benefit of the cycle or amount of heat removed, divided
by the required energy input to operate the cycle [1] . Applying the
energy equation on the theoretical cycle shown in Fig.(1) for a mass
of refrigerant yields :

q r m(h1 h4 )

Win m(h2 h1 )

qc m(h2 h3 )
h3= h4


Then , coefficient of performance is :


h h4
Win h2 h1


Fig. (1) The Ideal VaporCompression Refrigeration Cycle

3. Related Practical work



Tests were conducted on an available laboratory automobile

air-conditioner system , as shown in Fig.(2) . The test apparatus has
been designed with the operating principle of an automobile airconditioner uses R134a . This unit was suitable for altering the
thermal load by controlling the electrical resistances (from 0 to 10 A)
, air temperature entering evaporator by controlling the evaporator
air cycle from closed to open gradually , and compressor speed (
1450 or 2900 rpm) . An air duct is used to the input of condenser to
control the ambient air temperature (temperature of air input to
condenser) by using two heaters of 3 kW each installed inside the
The practical (actual) refrigeration capacity (qract) can be
determined by :
qract = vaev a cpa (t)ev ......(3)
and the practical heat rejection from condenser (qcact) can be
determined by :
qcact = vac a cpa (t)c
The actual power consumption in the compressor can be calculated
by :
Winact = V I cos

Fig. (2) Schematic Diagram of the Instrumented Automobile

Air-Conditioner [9]

4. Simulation of Instrumented Automobile Air-Conditioner



A system simulation was used in this paper as an approach for

refrigeration cycle analysis which performed by mathematical rather
than graphical analysis and finding balance points from intersection
of two curves .
4.1 Performance of Reciprocating Compressor
Fig. (3a) illustrates experimental results of the compressor for
the test apparatus at different evaporating temperatures for each
curve which is obtained at constant condensing temperature , the
refrigeration capacity (qract) calculated at an experimental measured
of air flow rate on evaporator (vaev) , and entering and leaving air
temperature from evaporator . Curves are shown in Fig.(3b) which
displays actual compressor work (Winact) calculated at measured
voltage and current of compressor motor via varying evaporating
temperatures at different condensing temperatures . Fig.(3c) shows
the experimental data of the varying heat rejection rate for
compressor versus the
condensing temperature at different
evaporating temperatures of the test apparatus .





Fig. (3) Experimental data of a SANDEN Hermetic Reciprocating
R134a/1450 rpm / 87 c.c. displacement / 5 cylinders ) Compressor
from a Tested Automobile Air-Conditioner Unit
4.2 Performance of Condenser
Compressor performance is the result of design compromises
involving physical limitations of the refrigerant , compressor , and
motor [10] . Two useful measures of compressor performance are the
coefficient of performance and the measure of power required per
unit of refrigerating capacity .



The condenser is a heat exchanger that rejects heat from the

refrigerant to the outside ambient . A cross-flow air-cooled plate fin
and tube condenser type used in the automobile air-conditioner .
Refrigerant flows through the tubes , and a fan force air between fins
and over tubes .The refrigerant enters the condenser at superheated
state it will be divided into superheated , saturated , and sub-cooled
portion [6,10] . Practical performance curves of the condenser in Fig.
(4) , show the actual heat rejection rate from condenser (qcact) which
is calculated at a measured air flow rate over condenser (vac) , and
entering and leaving air temperatures from condenser via varying
condensing temperature with ambient temperature effects .

Fig. (4) Practical Performance of Condenser of the Test Apparatus

4.3 Performance of Condensing Unit

The condensing unit sub-system consists of a compressor and
condenser and performs the function of drawing low pressure vapor
from evaporator , compressing and condensing the refrigerant and
supplying high pressure liquid to the expansion valve . The behavior
of the condensing unit performance can be formed by combination of
Figs.(3c) and (4) as shown in Fig.(5) which illustrates the balancing
points of condensing unit at ambient air temperatures of 25 o C and
45 oC .



Fig.(5) Performance of the Condensing Unit for the Instrumented

Automobile Air-Conditioner (Experimental Results)

4.4 Performance of Evaporator

A finned tube type forced convection evaporator (cooling coil)
is used in automobile air-conditioner to transfer heat from the car
cabinet air in order to lower its temperature and humidity .The
evaporator performance effected by air heat transfer coefficient , air
flow rate through evaporator , and refrigerant boiling coefficient flow
into evaporator . The refrigerant enters the evaporator as a liquid
vapor mixture , it is divided into saturated and superheated portions .
The experimentally overall performance of the evaporator in
instrumented automobile air-conditioner is shown in Fig. (6) that
clarifies the actual refrigeration capacity (qract)
via varying
evaporator temperature with entering air of evaporator temperature
(ten) effects .



Fig. (6) Experimental Performance of Evaporator for Instrumented

Automobile Air-Conditioner

4.5 Performance of Complete Cycle

The simulation of complete unit involves the compressor ,
condenser , evaporator , and condensing unit . Performance of
complete cycle for instrumented automobile air-conditioner is found
by determining the balancing points of condensing unit (Fig. 5) and
an evaporator at varying entering air temperatures (Fig. 6) as shown
in Fig. (7) .

Fig.(7) Performance of complete cycle for the test apparatus

(Experimental Results)


4.6 Thermostatic Expansion Valve

An expansion valve is used to control the refrigerant flow rate
through the evaporator , the refrigerant transformed from saturated
liquid to a mixture of vapor and liquid by throttling process. The
consequence for cycle performance of the expansion valve suffering
(not getting enough of refrigerant) the evaporator .When the
evaporator suffers , the overall heat transfers coefficient of the
evaporator drops and the balance point shifts to a lower evaporator
temperature and refrigeration capacity .
When the first law of thermodynamics is applied between inlet
and outlet of expansion valve , the enthalpy is constant across the
expansion valve (h3 = h4). The constant enthalpy throttling process
assumes no heat transfer or change in potential or kinetic energy
through the expansion valve [1,11,12] .

5. Mathematical Simulation
The method of least squares and polynomial regression
equation are applied on the compressor performance curves that are
experimentally obtained shown in previous Figs.(2a), and (2b) to
develop mathematical equations for refrigerating capacity , and
compressor work respectively that represent compressor
performance for instrumented automobile air-conditioner as follows :
qr ao a1t ev a2 t ev2 a3t c a4 t c2 a5t ev t c a6 t ev2 t c a7 t ev t c2 a8t ev2 t c2 .(6)

Win bo b1t ev b2 t ev2 b3t c b4 t c2 b5t ev t c b6 t ev2 t c b7 t ev t c2 b8t ev2 t c2 .(7)
A subroutine to determine the coefficients (a0,a1,,a8), and
(b0,b1,b8) is achieved by fit the equations (6) and (7) connected
with the main simulation program of the cycle .
The heat rejection from condenser is the sum of the
refrigerating capacity and compressor work , then :
qc = qr + Win


In an air-cooled condenser , heat is transferred by : desuperheating ,

condensing , and subcooling . The liquid and vapor portion changes
constantly through the condenser . A suitable representation instead


of exact representation of the heat transfer performance of an aircooled condenser type is used for most calculations is available,
however , through an assumption of a constant heat exchanger
effectiveness , the condenser heat rejected can be represented by :
qc = c (tc ta) ..(9)
tc = (qc / c) + ta ......(10)
If the overall heat transfer coefficient of evaporator remains
constant over the operation shown in previous Fig. (6) , the lines
representing a given temperature of entering air (ten) would be
straight . An equation is needed in the mathematical model to
express the refrigeration :
qr = p (ten tev) .....(11)
tev = ten (qr / p) ......(12)
The average values of (c) and (p) are found from Figs. (4) and (6)
respectively to enter in the main program as an input data .
5.1 Simulation of Condensing Unit
At an ambient temperature of 25 oC and an evaporating
temperature of -2 oC , a trail value of condensing temperature of 45
C is arbitrary selected to be entered into the calculations loop of
condensing unit simulation in order to get started .The values of q r ,
Win , and qc are computed from Eqs.(6) , (7) , and (8) respectively
and then a new value of tc is computed from Eq. (10) and again loop
until converged with selected (tc) . A similar procedure is used for
other values of evaporating temperatures (tev = 0, 2, 3.5, 5 oC) .
Repeated steps are used for ambient temperature of 45 oC .
5.2 Simulation of Complete cycle
The trail values of tev= -0.13 oC and tc= 46 oC which are
obtained graphically at ambient temperature (ta= 25 oC) and an
entering air temperature is entered into a simulation program for
the complete cycle in order to get started . Similar calculations are



performed for other value of ten=25 oC. Repeated steps are used for
ta= 45 oC .
The main computer program is constructed using Quick
BASIC language to simulate a performance of automobile airconditioner cycle with trail values of evaporating and condensing
temperatures , as the following steps :
Enter trail values of evaporating temperature (tev) and
condensing temperature (tc) which are obtained from preceding
Fig. (7) .
Compute the refrigerating capacity (qr) and the compressor
work (Win) .
Compute of the condenser heat rejected (qc) .
Compute the coefficient of performance (COP)
Correct and compar evaporating and condensing temperatures
with the trail values until converged by calculating evaporating
and condensing temperatures from Eqs.(10) and (12)
respectively .

6. Results
The balancing points obtained from the mathematical simulation of
condensing unit are shown in Fig. (8a) .A performance of complete
cycle reveals the balancing points which are obtained from
simulation program shown in Fig.(8b) .




Fig. (8) Performance of Condensing Unit and Complete Cycle for
Instrumented Automobile Air-Conditioner (Mathematical Results)

Figs. (9a to 9c) show discharge and suction gauge pressures ,

actual refrigeration capacity (qract) and compressor work (Winact) ,
and actual coefficient of performance (COP) with varying ambient
air temperature .





Fig. (9) Effect of Ambient Temperature on Cycle Parameters and

7. Conclusion
The direct ambient temperature effects on the heat
rejection from a condenser appears on the refrigeration capacity and
the power consumption . The refrigeration capacity increase as
ambient temperature decreases , maximum value of refrigeration
capacity of 2.85 kW is obtained at 25 oC ambient temperature . The
compressor work decreases as ambient temperature decreases ,


minimum value of compressor work of 1.315 kW is obtained at 25 oC

ambient temperature . The COP increase as the
temperature decreases , maximum value of COP of 2.167 is obtained
at 25 oC ambient temperature . The corresponding deviation
percentage ( %) of condenser load (qc) between the experimental
and theoretical results of the balancing points for condensing unit
performance are 2.5% and 9% ,while ( %) are 2.2% and 5% for
experimental and theoretical cooling load (qr) which are obtained
from balancing points of complete cycle performance .

ao , a1 ,,a8
bo , b1 ,,b8

Capacity per Unit Temperature Difference
Air Specific Heat at Constant Pressure
Power Factor
Current of compressor motor
Mass Flow Rate of Refrigerant
Proportionality Factor
Condenser Heat Rejected
Refrigerating Capacity
Ambient Temperature
Condensing Temperature
Air Temperature Entering Evaporator
Evaporating Temperature

Difference of Entering and Leaving Air Temperatures
from Condenser
Difference of Entering and Leaving Air Temperatures
from Evaporator
Air Flow Rate on Condenser
Air Flow Rate on Evaporator
Voltage of Compressor Motor
Compressor Work
Air Density



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