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Implementation and testing of a model for the calculation of

equilibrium between components of a refrigeration installation

Marco Alexandre Onofre Dias

This paper presents a model that was implemented with the objective of calculating the
working conditions of real components from a refrigeration installation. With that objective
parameters were calculated for sets of components from different suppliers to represent their
behaviour. For compressors, the global efficiency and a parameter m from the volumetric
efficiency was correlated as a function of the pressure ratio, and similar behaviour was
observed for different suppliers and fluids. For evaporators and condensers values of the heat
transfer capacity AU were determined and found to be well correlated with air velocity. The
numerical model implemented in a VBA macro in Excel calculates the evaporation and
condensing temperatures that match the capacity of the components in the refrigeration
cycle. Then all the parameters from the cycle can be calculated. The model is tested with
data measured in three installations and a good agreement is obtained for all variables, with
differences in absorbed power below 3% and temperature differences below 2ºC except for
the evaporation temperature in one case and the main effects for this mismatch are analysed.

Key Words: Refrigeration; Compression cycle; Numerical model;

1 - Introduction

The dimensioning of refrigeration systems is based on the assessment of the most critical
conditions and usually a margin is given to allow for defrost periods and variations in loads.
The actual operation conditions of the system change along time depending on the storage
room and ambient conditions. The selection of components for a given refrigeration
installation is considered from different suppliers and they are specified for standard
conditions that are not met when they are combined. Therefore it is interesting to consider a
methodology to match the working conditions of different components.

Stoecker (2004) suggest that the characteristics of the compressors should be correlated by
the suppliers by polynomials as a function of the evaporation and condensation temperature.
The coefficients for these functions are supplied e.g. by the Bitzer (2011) software and a
graphical analysis is suggested by Green and Perry (2007) to determine the equilibrium
between components as shown in figure 1. The figure represents the cooling capacity as a
function of the evaporation temperature from the condenser-compressor and the evaporator
characteristics. The intersection point determines the operation point for those equipments.
This analysis however are based on the components characteristics for assumed conditions
e.g. from EN12900 with an admission temperature of 20ºC.
Figure 1 – Cooling capacity as a function of the evaporation temperature from the condenser-
compressor and the evaporator and the determination of equilibrium (Green and Perry, 2007)

The calculation of refrigeration cycles require the use of suitable models for the properties of
the refrigerant fluids that are based on the fluid properties that are nowadays supplied by the
refrigerant suppliers, e.g. Solvay (2011) or from research labs, e.g. NIST (2009) who
distribute REFPROP. The development of models based on these packages for properties is
available for simple cycles based on the definition of the evaporation and condensation
temperatures. CoolPack is a software developed by DTU (2011) using EES (Engineering
Equation Solver) that solves a large range of non-linear equations representing a refrigeration
cycle. This program includes an option to specify the capacity of heat exchangers (AU) and
the compressor global and volumetric efficiencies to determine the performance of a cycle.
The values however are considered as constant and to insert specific data from a supplier
previous calculations are required. Based on the scarce tools available the present work was
carried out to implement a model in a readily accessible program, Excel, including
characteristics from different suppliers enabling the analysis of the choice of different
components in a refrigeration cycle.

Following this introduction, the next section describes the models used for the components
and the determination of their parameters for different suppliers. This section also includes a
brief description of the algorithm developed. Section 3 presents the results obtained from
simulations for three different installations and the comparison with measured values. The
final conclusions are summarized in the last section.
2 – Models for components and equilibrium

This section presents simple models that are used to fit parameters to represent the main
components of a refrigeration cycle: compressor, evaporator and condenser. The equilibrium
calculation to be carried out should represent the effect of operational variables such as the
temperatures of the storage rooms, ambient and admission in the compressor, so
thermodynamic and heat transfer models are required to relate these with the evaporation
and condensation pressure (and temperatures). The thermodynamic cycle considered is a
simple one as represented in figure 2.

Figure 2 – Thermodynamic cycle of refrigeration systems. Evaporator (40), Heating in admission line
(01) that is included in reference cycle (EN12900), Compressor (12), Condenser (23), Expansion
valve (34).

2.1 - Compressor

The compressor is the component of the cycle that defines the refrigerant flow section
presents simple models that are used to fit parameters to represent the main components of
a refrigeration cycle: compressor, evaporator and condenser. The equilibrium calculation to
be carried out should represent the effect of operational variables such as the temperatures
of the storage rooms, ambient and admission in the compressor, so thermodynamic and heat
transfer models are required to relate these with the evaporation and condensation

The reciprocating compressor considered in the present work is a positive displacement

machine so the main characteristics are the volumetric displacement, the volumetric
efficiency and the global efficiency. There are models in the literature that consider several
processes within the compressor case that includes the electrical engine and transmissions.
Navarro et al (2007) present such a detailed model from which they derive the variation of the
global and volumetric efficiencies. For the volumetric efficiency there are contributions from
the theoretical volumetric efficiency and effects from leaks and condensation/re-vaporisation.
In the present model in the absence of detailed data about the compressors the volumetric
efficiency ηVol is modelled as a function of the pressure ratio (rP) by:
Vol  1  m rP n  1
 
where the parameter m in theory corresponds to the ratio between the residual and the
displaced volume. In the results of Navarro it was found that when no condensation/re-
vaporization effects were considered, the values of m obtained are larger than the
geometrical factors. The other parameter that arises in the volumetric efficiency model above
is the n index of the polytropic evolution in the compressor.

In the present work data from compressors was used to calculate the refrigerant fluid mass
flow rate from the energy balance:

m  (2)
(h1  h4 )

where Q0refrig is the refrigeration capacity provided by the compressor and the enthalpy
difference in the denominator is the refrigeration effect from a standard cycle used to define
the compressor performance. The actual volumetric efficiency is defined with the mass flow
rate, the inlet density into the compressor (ρ1) and the volumetric displacement flow of the

compressor V from the definition:

Vol   (3)

The other main parameter that characterizes the compressor is its global efficiency that can
be defined as the ratio of the power consumption from an isentropic evolution in comparison
to the actual power consumption:

m (h2 s  h1 )
Comp  (4)
W Comp

Based on this value the actual discharge conditions from the compressor can be estimated
considering that it is adiabatic. This is approximately true for hermetic compressors where the
heat loss from electrical motor inefficiency and mechanical dissipation heats the refrigerant
fluid. Based on the calculated discharge conditions, the polytropic index n can be obtained:

P2  v1  ln( P2 P1 )
    n  (5)
P1  v2  ln(v1 / v2 )

Using the values of the actual volumetric efficiency and the polytropic index n, the parameter
m of the volumetric efficiency can be estimated and has been correlated as a function of the
pressure ratio for compressors from the same suppliers for different fluids, as indicated in
figure 3, for the case of Bitzer compressors.

y = 5,7518E-04x2 - 1,1721E-02x + 1,1591E-01
R2 = 3,4429E-01
y = 3,5723E-04x2 - 8,8710E-03x + 1,0059E-01
R2 = 2,8253E-01 r404a
0,08 r22
y = 7,5825E-04x2 - 1,5666E-02x + 1,2730E-01 r134a

R2 = 6,9142E-01 r404aRP>5

y = -2,6572E-03x2 + 1,5362E-02x + 6,0938E-02
R2 = 1,4211E-01
y = -2,1630E-03x2 + 6,1811E-03x + 8,6811E-02
0,02 R2 = 5,9140E-02
y = 2,1308E-03x2 - 2,9021E-02x + 1,6010E-01
R2 = 6,1249E-01
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16

Figure 3 – Correlations for the parameter m from the volumetric efficiency as a function of the pressure

It can be observed that the values are not constant as would be expected by the simple
theory but there is a reasonable representation as a function of the pressure ratio rP. The
global efficiency has also been correlated with this variable with the results presented in
figure 4.

Compressor efficiency



Compressor efficiency

0,5 r404a
y = 5,0786E-03x2 - 4,3000E-02x + 7,3109E-01 y = -1,5565E-03x2 + 1,1890E-02x + 6,1931E-01
R2 = 1,1184E-03 R2 = 2,6541E-01 R134aRP>5

y = -1,2704E-03x2 + 1,6799E-02x + 5,9308E-01

y = 6,5925E-02x2 - 5,0973E-01x + 1,5779E+00
0,2 R2 = 2,3546E-01
R2 = 6,1653E-01

0,1 y = -1,1388E-02x2 + 1,0667E-01x + 3,6741E-01 y = -1,1982E-03x2 + 1,8923E-02x + 5,5384E-01

R2 = 6,9007E-01 R2 = 7,0834E-02
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16

Figure 4 – Correlations of the global compressor efficiency as a function of the pressure ratio.

Based on the definition of the correlations presented in the figures, it was possible to build a
model to represent the performance of the compressors as a function of the operating
conditions that is evaporation and condensation temperatures. The model can also be used
to represent variations in the admission temperature. Figure 5 presents a comparison of the
values calculated for a Bitzer compressor as a function of the evaporation temperature using
different approximations for the correlations. The values from figures 3 and 4 correspond to
the best approach but the other approaches also provide reasonable results, where a single
set of values is used irrespectively of the pressure ratio and the refrigerant.

Refrigeration Capacity (kW)

30,00 Catalogue
25,00 1aprox
20,00 2aprox
15,00 3aprox
-35 -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 0
Evaporation Temperature (ºC)


Power Cons. (kW)

15 Catalogue
10 1aprox
-35 -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 0
Evaporation Temperature(ºC)

Figure 5 – Comparison of the model results using different approximations with the values from the
catalogue. a) Refrigeration capacity, b) power consumption.

2.2 – Evaporators and Condensers

The evaporators and condensers are considered in the same section as both are heat
exchangers with phase change. Actually for non-azeotropic mixtures there is a small
temperature variation associated with the phase change that is neglected. Further in both
cases there is an area of the heat exchanger that is used to superheat the vapour in the
evaporator and to cool the superheated vapour in the condenser. Therefore for the condenser
the temperature difference in that area is larger than in the area of phase change while the
opposite happens in the case of the evaporators. In both cases the heat transfer coefficient is
smaller in the superheated vapour compared with the phase change zone and this effect is
more important for the evaporator. To avoid the complication of considering a two zone for
each equipment it is usual to define an overall heat transfer capacity based on the difference
between the inlet temperature of the air crossing the heat exchanger and the phase change
temperature. Based on this approach values for the global heat transfer coefficient (U) were
calculated and are represented as a function of the air velocity in figure 6. In the case of the
evaporator the velocity from the fans was considered, while for the condensers the average
values were considered. In both cases it can be observed that the global heat transfer
coefficient depends on velocity with an exponent of the order of 0.6 that is typical for heat

2.3 – Equilibrium calculations

The calculation of the equilibrium situation between a given set of components: compressor,
condenser and evaporator is carried out firstly by determining the condensation temperature
that balances the performance of the condenser with the compressor. This calculation is
based on a pre-assumed value of the evaporation temperature that is corrected in a iterative
procedure that compares the refrigeration capacity provided by the compressor and the heat
transfer capacity of the evaporator. The final results of the simulation are the evaporation and
condensation temperatures and all the values that can then be defined including the
refrigeration capacity and the power consumption. The next section presents results from
calculations for different cases and shows how the model responds to modifications in
individual components.

Evaporator Mod. DFE Condenser -Mod ACP

y = 12,212x0,6085 35
30 R² = 0,777 30
U (W/m2K)

U (W/m2K)
20 15
10 y = 11,767x0,6569
15 5 R² = 0,8537
10 1 2 3 4
2,5 3 3,5 4
Air Velocity (m/s) Air Velocity (m/s)

Figure 6 – Variation of global heat transfer coefficients with typical air velocities. a) Evaporators, b)

3 – Equilibrium calculations and validation

This section presents the results from the application of the model for three test cases. The
first test case is based on an installation that has a condenser/compressor group for which
the characteristics of the compressor were know so the heat transfer capacity of the
condenser was estimated from results of that condenser in different assemblies. Figure 7
presents the measured values of pressure, represented as equivalent phase change
temperatures for the refrigerant used (R404a). These values were monitored using a Testo
556 data logger coupled with pressure probes at the admission and discharge lines of the
compressor. In this case the evaporation temperature decreased until reaching -15ºC that
was much lower than anticipated from the model and the thermal expansion valve had to be
regulated leading to an evaporating temperature of -8ºC while the chamber temperature was -
Bruno Terroal - 2ºEnsaio
tevap= -15ºC tevap= -8ºC

Temperatura (ºC)
10,0 tevap
5,0 tcond
-5,0 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

Tempo (s)

Figure 7 – Results of the measurements carried out at Bruno Terroal plant for evaporation and
condensation temperatures calculated from the pressure measurements at the compressor.

The calculated evaporation temperature in this case was -6.8ºC due to the large capacity of
the evaporator. This is a value similar to the one obtained after regulating the thermostatic
valve, showing that the regulation of the valve should impose a smaller temperature
difference than the one resulting from the heat capacity of the evaporator that is considered in
the equilibrium between components.

The second test that is presented is for a freezed products chamber from Manjarlima. In this
case the measurements were done in a cycle where the evaporation temperature decreased
reaching -28.9ºC while the chamber reached -22ºC. For this case the capacity of the
condenser was not exactly known as it was one sector of a larger condenser. Therefore
simulations were carried out for different condensation capacities with values of the nominal
capacity around 30 kW that is the correct choice for the other components. The results are
presented in table 1 where the influence of the condenser capacity is obviously the
modification of the condensation temperature. The power consumption and the evaporation
temperature can be predicted with fair accuracy and are not strongly influenced by the
assumptions. The parameter that is more strongly influenced as in the previous case is the
refrigeration capacity that is not measured but has a strong influence on the efficiency of the
refrigeration system and the results justify the use of the model to assess this value.

Condenser Capacity (kW)
30,07 17,96 33,5
Refrig. Cap. (kW) 17,07 14,89 17,28
Power Cons.(kW) 10,43 10,59 11,39 10,51
EER 1,61 1,31 1,64
Evap. Temp (ºC) -28,9 -28,01 -27,21 -28,09
Cond. Temp. (ºC) 35,3 34,21 42,29 33,42
Table 1 – Comparison of results for the installation Manjarlima and analysis of the effect of the
condenser capacity.
The third case that is presented is for a refrigeration chamber at Toze Crispim that uses
individual condenser and compressor and two similar evaporators. This case is the best
known and the results of the measurements are presented in figure 8. Typical values are
identified in the figure and the ambient temperature was 25 to 26ºC.

The temperature at the compressor inlet was not measured but since the line is insulated it is
expected to be about 2ºC as in the first case. Nevertheless a parametric test is carried out to
see the influence of the heat gain in the admission compression line as presented in table 2.

tcond = 37,1ºC TOZE CRISPIM tevap = -6,3ºC

Temperature (ºC)

-10,0 0 500 1000 1500 2000

Time (s)

Figure 8 – Results of the measurements carried out at Tozé Crispim for evaporation and condensation
temperatures calculated from the pressure measurements at the compressor.

Real Values Inlet temp. (ºC)
20 10 2
Refrig. Cap. (kW) 19,82 20,53 21,15
Power Cons.(kW) 7,53 7,44 7,40 7,35
EER 2,66 2,78 2,88
Evap. Temp. (ºC) -6,3 -5,31 -5,50 -5,67
Cond.Temp. (ºC) 37,1 35,08 35,32 35,49
Table 2 – Comparison of results for the installation Tozé Crispim and analysis of the effect of the inlet
temperature for the compressor.

It can be seen that the influence of this parameter is strong in the refrigeration capacity but
less significant in the measured variables. The level of agreement between the calculated and
measured values is good and represents variations in the temperature difference in the heat
exchangers below 15%. In the power consumption the deviations as in the previous cases
are below 3%.

4 – Conclusions

The present work presents a model to evaluate the equilibrium between components of a
refrigeration installation that can incorporate data from actual equipments. A procedure was
developed to find model parameters and the values obtained allow for the following
conclusions. The global compression efficiency and a parameter from the volumetric
efficiency can be correlated with the pressure ration in the compressor. For the heat
exchangers the global coefficients present a variation with air velocity in line with heat transfer

The algorithm developed allows for the calculation of the evaporation and condensation
temperature as well as the refrigeration capacity and the power consumption. It is shown that
with the exception of one case the temperatures can be predicted within 2ºC and the power
consumption within 3%. The reasons for the larger difference in one case was discussed.


 Bitzer, 2011, Bitzer software 5.3.1,

 DTU, 2011, Coolpack software, Version 1.46,

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Technical University of Denmark.

 Green, D.W. and Perry, R.H., 2007 -Chemical Engineering’s Handbook, 8th Edition,
Mc Graw Hill.

 Navarro, E., Granryd, E, Urchueguia, J.F. e Coberian, J.M., 2007 – A

phenomenological model for analyzing reciprocation compressors, International
Journal of Refrigeration, 30: 1254-1265.

 NIST, 2009, REFPROP - Reference Fluid Thermodynamic and Transport Properties

Database,, National Institute of Standard and

 Solvay, 2011,

 Stoecker, Wilbert F. 2004 – Industrial Refrigeration Handbook, McGraw-Hill.