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info on the joule thomson effect

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The temperature change of a real gas when it is forced through a valve/porous plug can be

quantified via the Joule-Thomson coefficient, 𝜇𝐽𝑇 . A positive value of 𝜇𝐽𝑇 indicates a cooling

of the fluid.

𝛿𝑇

𝜇𝐽𝑇 = ( )

𝛿𝑃 𝐻

The adiabatic expansion of the fluid may be carried out in a number of ways. The change in

temperature in the fluid during expansion depends on the initial and final pressure, but also

the way in which the expansion is carried out. Free expansion is when the internal energy of

the fluid does not change, but the temperature is lowered due to the Kinetic energy of the

fluid being converted into potential energy. If work is done on or by the fluid as it expands,

then the total internal energy does change, which is what happens in a Joule-Thomson

expansion. This can produce much larger cooling than free expansion.

In a Joule-Thomson expansion the enthalpy remains constant. The enthalpy, 𝐻, is defined

as

𝐻 = 𝑈 + 𝑃𝑉

Where 𝑈 is the internal energy, 𝑃 is the pressure and 𝑉 is the volume. Under the conditions

of a Joule-Thomson expansion, the change in 𝑃𝑉 represents the work done by the fluid. If

𝑃𝑉 increases, at constant enthalpy 𝐻, then 𝑈 must decrease as a result. This means that the

fluid experiences a reduction in temperature and results in a positive value for the Joule-

Thomson coefficient. Conversely, a decrease in 𝑃𝑉 (i.e. work is done on the fluid) means

that the internal energy increases for enthalpy to remain constant. If the increase in internal

energy is greater than the increase in potential energy (or decrease in kinetic energy) then

the temperature of the fluid will increase, and the Joule-Thomson coefficient will be negative.

For an ideal gas, 𝑃𝑉 does not change as it is throttled. As a result, there is no change in

internal energy of the fluid and thus no change in kinetic energy and consequently

temperature. However, in real gases, the quantity 𝑃𝑉 does change.

The ratio of the value of 𝑃𝑉 to that expected for an ideal gas at the exact same temperature

is called the compressibility factor, 𝑍.

The rate of change of temperature with respect to pressure 𝑃 in a Joule-Thomson process

(at constant 𝐻) is the Joule-Thomson coefficient:

𝑉 𝐾

𝜇𝐽𝑇 = (𝛼𝑇 − 1) [ ]

𝐶𝑝 𝑃𝑎

Where 𝐶𝑝 is the heat capacity at constant pressure, 𝛼 is the coefficient of thermal expansion

and 𝑇 is the absolute temperature in Kelvin.

Application

In industry and in our process, the Joule-Thomson effect is achieved by allowing the gas to

expand through a throttling device (usually a valve). This must be well insulated to prevent

any heat transfer to or from the surroundings and gas.

Throttling (T-S Diagram)

Figure 1 T-s diagram of nitrogen. The red dome represents the two-phase region with the low-entropy side (the

saturated liquid) and the high-entropy side (the saturated gas). The black curves give the T-s relation along

isobars. The pressures are indicated in bar. The blue curves are isenthalps (curves of constant specific enthalpy).

The specific enthalpies are indicated in kJ/kg.

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