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MM 315 Mechanisms and Machines

The University of the South Pacific

School of Engineering and Physics
MM 321 Applied Thermofluids

Lab 1: Performance Study of a Vapor Compression Refrigeration System

Lab Session Time: Tuesday 3-6 pm

Student Names: Siddhant Vishal Chand(s11108833)
Philip Tanikoba(s11102239)
Samson Hagarigia (s11091715)

The aim of this experiment is to study the performance of a Vapour Compression Refrigeration


Vapor Compression Unit

This experiment is based on a Vapour Compression Refrigeration Unit Situated in USP Fluid lab. It
introduces students to the principals, properties, materials, components and thermodynamics of the VCRS.
The system is configured with numerous gages to allow for precise measurements used in thermodynamic
calculations. With the help of the PH chart for Acton 12 Graph, the four enthalpies will be found and by
calculating the compressor work and the cooling rate the COP of the system will be found.


Figure 1: Schematic Diagram Of A VCRS [1]

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MM 315 Mechanisms and Machines

Vapor-compression refrigeration uses a circulating liquid refrigerant as the medium which absorbs and
removes heat from the space to be cooled and subsequently rejects that heat elsewhere. Figure 1 depicts a
typical vapor-compression system. All such systems have four components: a gas compressor, a condenser,
an expansion valve (also called a throttle valve), and an evaporator. Circulating refrigerant enters the
compressor in the thermodynamic state known as a "saturated vapor" and is compressed to a higher pressure,
resulting in a higher temperature as well. The hot, compressed vapor is then in the thermodynamic state
known as a "superheated vapor" and it is at temperature and pressure at which it can be condensed with
typically available cooling water or cooling air. That hot vapor is routed through a condenser where it is
cooled and condensed into a liquid by flowing through a coil or tubes with cool water or cool air flowing
across the coil or tubes. This is where the circulating refrigerant rejects heat from the system and the rejected
heat is carried away by either the water or the air (whichever may be the case).

The condensed liquid refrigerant, in the thermodynamic state known as a "saturated liquid", is next routed
through an expansion valve where it undergoes an abrupt reduction in pressure. That pressure reduction
results in the adiabatic flash evaporation of a part of the liquid refrigerant. The auto-refrigeration effect of
the adiabatic flash evaporation lowers the temperature of the liquid and vapor refrigerant mixture to where it
is colder than the temperature of the enclosed space to be refrigerated.

The cold mixture is then routed through the coil or tubes in the evaporator. A fan circulates the warm air in
the enclosed space across the coil or tubes carrying the cold refrigerant liquid and vapor mixture. That warm
air evaporates the liquid part of the cold refrigerant mixture. At the same time, the circulating air is cooled
and thus lowers the temperature of the enclosed space to the desired temperature. The evaporator is where
the circulating refrigerant absorbs and removes heat which is subsequently rejected in the condenser and
transferred elsewhere by the water or air used in the condenser.[2]

To complete the refrigeration cycle, the refrigerant vapor from the evaporator is again a saturated vapor and
is routed back into the compressor.


Figure 2: The schematic of VCR unit used in this experiment [3]

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MM 315 Mechanisms and Machines

The VCR unit as shown in figure 2 was turned on and the following readings were read off the gauge:
Temperature after evaporator
Mass flow rate in g/s
The two pressures P1 and P2

The 2 pressures from the VCR unit was then used to find enthalpies 1-4. This was done by taking the higher
pressure and extending a horizontal line till it met the saturated liquid line on the P-h curve. This was point
3. The line was then dropped down till it met the horizontal line from the lower pressure. This was point 4.
Then tracing the temperature line after the evaporator till it met the lower pressure line to find point 1. From
point 1 the nearest parallel entropy line was drawn to meet the upper pressure line to find point 2. Since now
the cycle was complete, the enthalpies were read from the graph and noted down.
These enthalpies were used to find the COP.
( NOTE: For calculations refer to the calculation section of the report)


Values recorded from VCR unit:

Mass Flow Rate 45g/s= 0.045kg/s Values found from P-h graph:
Pressure 1 1 bar
Pressure 2 8 bar h1= 270 KJ/Kg
Temperature (T1) 296K h2= 316 KJ/Kg
h3= 132 KJ/Kg
h4= 132 KJ/Kg

Rate of Work Done By The Compressor:

W =m
r (h2h1)
= (0.045kg/s)(316-270)
= 2.07 KW

Rate Of Cooling:

QL = mr (h1 h4) = 0.045 (270 132) = 6.21 Kj/s = 6.21 Kw

COP of the VCR:

QL h1 h 4 6.21 Kw
COP = = = = 3.0
WC h 2 h 1 2.07 Kw

After the evaluation of the outcome of the experiment, the rate of cooling was calculated to be 6.21kW. The
work done by the compressor on the refrigerant was calculated to be 2.07KJ/s. Furthermore, the COP was
calculated from the work of compressor and the cooling rate was found to be 3. Moreover, it was noticed
that the pressure readings from the gages were fluctuating. This fluctuation was however small hence the
values were readable. The reasons for this was because of the type of compressors used. In our case, a
reciprocating compressor was used to compress Acton 12 refrigerant hence fluctuations of the condenser
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MM 315 Mechanisms and Machines

pressure was visible. If R-134a Refrigerant was to be used, then a centrifugal compressor would have been
ideal and there would be clear pressure readings. Reciprocating compressors are relatively cheap and can
achieve high pressure ratios then centrifugal compressors. Also they can be used for multi staged


After the completion of this experiment the Vapor Compression Refrigeration Cycle was understood
practically. The cooling rate was successfully found by difference in enthalpies 1 and 4. The work by
compressor was also successfully found by difference in enthalpies 1 and 2. Finally the COP of 3 was found.
All in all, the experiment was a success.


[1] Ecoursesonline, 2012. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. Online,

[2] Wikipedia, 2015.Vapour Compression Refrigeration System Online,

[3] USP, Fluid Lab, 2016.

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