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Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

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Applied Thermal Engineering

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Characterization of a scroll compressor under extended operating conditions

Cristian Cuevas a,*, Jean Lebrun b,1, Vincent Lemort b,2, Eric Winandy b

Departamento de Ingeniera Mecnica, Facultad de Ingeniera, Universidad de Concepcin, Casilla 160-C, Concepcin, Chile
Thermodynamics Laboratory, University of Lige, Campus du Sart Tilman Btiment B49, Parking P33, B-4000 Lige, Belgium

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 26 November 2008
Accepted 9 November 2009
Available online 13 November 2009
Scroll compressor
High pressure

a b s t r a c t
Refrigeration and air-conditioning compressors are designed to work under well-dened conditions. In
some applications it is interesting to observe their performances beyond these conditions, for example
in the case of a high temperature two-stage heat pump or of a cooling system working at high temperature.
In this study a compressor is characterized experimentally with refrigerant R134a and through 118
tests at condensing pressures varying from 8.6 up to 40.4 bar (tsat = 33.9 C to tsat = 100.8 C) and evaporating pressures varying from 1.6 up to 17.8 bar (tsat = 15.6 C to tsat = 62.4 C). Under these conditions
the compressor motor was pushed at its maximal current in several tests.
This compressors performance is mainly characterized by its isentropic and volumetric efciencies. It
presents a maximal isentropic efciency of 72%, corresponding to a pressure ratio of around 2.52.6. The
volumetric efciency decreases linearly from almost 1.0 (for a pressure ratio of 1.3) to 0.83 (for a pressure
ratio of 9.7). A slight degradation of the isentropic and volumetric efciencies is observed when the compressor supply and exhaust pressures are increased for a given pressure ratio; this could be due to an
internal leakage.
The compressor tests are used to identify the six parameters of a semi-empirical simulation model.
After parameter identication, experimental and simulated results are in very good agreement, except
for some points at high compressor power where the compressor is pushed at its maximal current.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Characterization of thermal machines is not only restricted to
the experimental analysis, modelling is also very important to
study the behaviour of overall systems during the design or the
simulation step. Both experimental and modelling aspects are
applied here for a refrigeration scroll compressor.
With respect to the compressor modelling, the distinction can
be made between empirical, semi-empirical and deterministic simulation models.
Empirical models are based on polynomial regressions and are
commonly used by manufacturers to present the performance of
the compressor.
Deterministic models rely on a comprehensive description of
the compressor based on control volumes analysis (involving heat
and mass transfers). Generally, these models associate a geometrical description of the machine and a thermodynamic description of
the compression process and require the exact characteristics of

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +56 41 2203550; fax: +56 41 2251142.

E-mail addresses: crcuevas@udec.cl (C. Cuevas), j.lebrun@ulg.ac.be (J. Lebrun),
vincent.lemort@ulg.ac.be (V. Lemort).
Tel.: +32 4 3664801; fax: +32 4 3664812.
Tel.: +32 4 3664824; fax: +32 4 3664812.
1359-4311/$ - see front matter 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

the machine. Morishita et al. [10] seem to be the rst authors to

give an analytical expression for the volume of the suction, compression and discharge chambers. Caillat et al. [2] developed one
of the rst global simulation models of the scroll compressor in order to analyze geometric, dynamic, thermodynamic and heat
transfer characteristics under different conditions. Two years later,
Yanagisawa et al. [19] developed another simulation model for
characterizing more in details the inuence of ow resistance,
leakage and rotational speed on the compressors performance. Nieter [11] and Nieter and Gagne [12] used a deterministic model to
investigate the suction and the discharge processes in a scroll compressor. Halm [6] summarized most of the previous works and
established a very detailed model of the scroll compressor. Later,
Wang et al. [15] generalized all the proposed analytical descriptions of the scroll geometry. Similar models, also based on control
volumes analysis, have been developed by Chen [3], Schein and
Radermacher [14], Lee [9] for an air-conditioning hermetic compressor, Huff and Radermacher [8] for CO2 application, and Wang
et al. [16] for investigating refrigerant injection.
Semi-empirical models, such as the one introduced in this paper, are described by physically meaningful equations and require
a limited number of parameters that can be identied on the basis
of measurements. Semi-empirical models are less time-consuming
and more numerically robust than deterministic models. Hence,


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615


heat transfer coefcient (W K1)

coefcient ()
enthalpy ow (W)
enthalpy (J kg1)
mass ow rate (kg s1)
rotational speed (s1)
number of tests ()
pressure (bar) or (Pa)
heat ow (W)
pressure ratio ()
built-in volume ratio ()
temperature (K)
temperature (C)
volume (m3) or variable
specic volume (m3 kg1)
specic work (J kg1)
compression work (J)
power (W)
coefcient ()


they are easier to integrate into the modelling of the whole refrigeration system. Moreover, unlike empirical models, semi-empirical
models allow the extrapolation of the components performance
beyond the range of data used to identify their parameters.
Hiller and Glicksman [7] seem to be the rst ones to propose a
semi-empirical model of a compressor, in the special case of a
reciprocating machine. Sauls [13] proposed a simple description
of the under-and over-compression processes characteristics of
scroll machines. Haberschill et al. [5] developed a model of a hermetic scroll compressor that accounts for the under- and overcompression processes, the internal leakage and the heat transfer
to the ambient. This model was improved by Winandy et al. [18],
who introduced the description of the suction and exhaust heat
transfers and of the electro-mechanical losses.
In this study, the semi-empirical model proposed by Winandy
et al. [18] is considered to characterize the scroll compressor as
continuation of the validation and as verication of the hypothesis
of this model under extended conditions.
Regarding the experimental analysis of thermal machines, it is
currently restricted to one nominal point or two to three dimensional testing conditions. The system or its components are rarely
run at the limits of their operating range. Performance of the system or component under such extreme conditions can be estimated by means of simulation, but without any certainty that
the system would work reliably. This is the reason why, when a
test bench has been set up, it is convenient to exploit it at most
to address these questions at least once. For example, very wide
testing conditions, corresponding to different applications, could
be dened for one component.
It is especially the case with the results presented in this study,
where a very large experimental program was carried out on a
xed speed hermetic scroll compressor. For instance, severe operating conditions, in terms of pressure and pressure ratio, were


isentropic or swept
volumetric or isovolumetric

Greek symbols
power loss coefcient
isentropic coefcient
error function
standard deviation

It is well-known that scroll compressors differ from each other by

their built-in volume ratio. The selected value depends on the application. For example in air-conditioning applications a moderated
built-in volume ratio is used; on the other hand, in refrigeration
applications a more important built-in volume ratio is preferred.
Moreover, in some compressors that must to work at high pressure
ratios, manufactures install, at the compressor exhaust, a reed valve
to reduce compressor loss related to the non-adaptation of the internal pressure ratio to the external one (Winandy et al. [18]).
In the actual application considered (which is not described in
depth here) the system must be able to work at high pressures and
at lower pressure ratios, thus compressors with a low built-in volume ratio are more appropriate for this application. The compressor
swept volume is selected according to the maximal cooling power
demand. In the nominal conditions, this maximal cooling power demand is of the order of 76 kW for a waterglycol ow rate of 5000 l/h
entering at 80 C at the evaporator which is then rejected to an aircooled condenser supplied by ambient air at a maximal temperature
of 45 C and an air ow rate of the order of 2 kg/s.
Again for the special application considered, the refrigerant system has to be tested under conditions very different from classical
ones: condensing pressures varying from 8.6 up to 40.4 bar
(tsat = 33.9 C to tsat = 100.8 C) and evaporating pressures varying
from 1.6 up to 17.8 bar (tsat = 15.6 C to tsat = 62.4 C). Refrigerant
R134a has been selected for this particular application.
The results presented here could be used, for example, as a basis
for a high temperature two-stage heat pump, or for a high temperature cooling system.
2. Test bench description
Some information given in EN 13771-1 Standard [4] are
used to determine the refrigerant capacity, the power absorbed, the refrigerant ow rate, the isentropic efciency and

C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

Fig. 1. Test bench.

the coefcient of performance. In particular, the methods A

(secondary uid calorimeter on the suction side) and E (refrigerant
ow meter in the liquid line) of this Standard, as well as an energy
balance on the compressor are used in this experimental study.
The test bench is a classical refrigeration loop with: glycol
water heated evaporator, air-cooled and water-cooled condensers,
and an electronic expansion valve.
Pressures, temperatures, electrical powers and ow rates are
measured at main locations of the test rig, in order to check the
thermal balances across each component and across the overall
system, as shown in Fig. 1.
2.1. Compressor description
The tested compressor is a hermetic scroll (see Fig. 2) with the
following characteristics:

Theoretical swept volume at 50 Hz 28:8 m3 h

Nominal speed
Maximum operating current


3000 rpm
19:2 A

Fig. 2. Compressor calorimeter.



C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

Usual operating range:

Table 1
Measurements ranges and uncertainties.

supply temperature :

1825 C

exhaust temperature :

70120  C

supply pressure :

37 bar

exhaust pressure :
1225 bar
refrigerant mass flow rate : 0:10:25 kg s1
electrical power :

611 kW

These values are extracted from a previous characterization of this

compressor with refrigerant R22 by Winandy et al. [18].
In this kind of compressor, the refrigerant circulates through the
electrical motor, in order to cool it, before entering the suction
chambers delimited by the two scrolls.
In the present study, the following unusual experimental conditions are achieved:
Pressure: the compressor works at higher pressures because of
the higher evaporating and condensing pressures used here.
However, this compressor has been tested in the factory at up
to 100 bar, a pressure to which the crankcase must resist. On
the other hand, the pressure ratio is low; therefore, the widening
of the pressure range should not cause any mechanical problem.
Motor cooling: at normal operating conditions, the motor is relatively well cooled by the suction gas entering the compressor
at temperatures of about 20 C. In the present case, the refrigerant evaporates at temperatures of up to 67 C, which can induce
certain problems. But, at these high temperatures, the refrigerant mass ow rate is also higher, what tends to balance effects
of high temperatures. Indeed, it is demonstrated that there are
no problems until 65 C.
2.2. Measuring system
The compressor calorimeter, shown in Fig. 2, is used to determinate the compressor ambient heat loss. In the present case, the calorimeter temperature is kept constant by manually tuning the
water ow rate supplying the fan coil.
The total conductance of the calorimeter is estimated, by calibration, to 5.26 W K1. Fig. 3 shows the results of the calorimeter
calibration. The intersect of 12.3 W has to be considered as an
uncertainty on the calorimeter heat balance.
Table 1 gives the uncertainties associated with pressures, refrigerant ow rate and compressor electric power measurements. The
uncertainty on the calorimeter water ow rate is estimated to 2%
of the measured value.


Measurement range



1.5517.78 bar
8.6040.44 bar

Between 0.03 and 0.04 bar

Between 0.20 and 0.21 bar

_ mix;cor

58.2398.7 g s1

Between 0.2 and 1.3 g s1

Electrical power
_ cp

412216,808 W

Between 46 and 189 W

Table 2
Test conditions.
Supply pressure
Exhaust pressure
Supply temperature
Exhaust temperature
Refrigerant mass ow rate
Compressor electric power

1.617.8 bar
8.640.4 bar
10.5 to 70.6 C
53.5136 C
0.0550.637 kg s1
4.1216.81 kW

3. Experimental results and analysis

The compressor tests were divided in two phases: (a) variation
of the pressure ratio at constant supply overheating and (b) variation of the overheating at constant pressure ratio.
The compressor is characterized with 118 tests (the testing
range is given in Table 2) at a constant supply frequency and by
taking a 30-min steady-state period for the experimental analysis,
for an acquisition frequency of 1 acquisition every 5 s.
3.1. Compressor ambient loss
The calorimeter thermal balance is based on the control volume
shown in Fig. 4.
The steady-state thermal balance is given by the following

_ lamps W
_ fan  H_ w;cal  Q_ cal;amb Q_ cp;amb 0

The compressor ambient loss is correlated with the temperature

difference between the compressor wall and the calorimeter internal ambient. The wall temperature is measured at four different
locations. Fig. 5 shows the compressor heat loss versus four temperatures differences, where twall,cp,1 is the wall temperature measured on the top of the compressor and twall,cp,2, twall,cp,3, twall,cp,4 are
the temperatures measured on the sides of the compressor at different heights.
Fig. 6 shows the same result but using two average compressor
wall temperatures: triangles are used for an arithmetic average
wall temperature and circles for a weighted average temperature.
When using an arithmetic average temperature, the relationship
obtained between the heat losses and the differential temperature
does not cut the y-axis at zero and presents an intercept of 53 W.
To eliminate this intercept, a wall temperature has to be dened in
the weighted average, according to the following equation:

twall;cp m  t wall;cp;1 1  m  t wall;cp;2 t wall;cp;3 t wall;cp;4 =3


Fig. 3. Global conductance of the calorimeter.

The intercept is eliminated with m = 0.163 and the compressor

heat transfer coefcient is then evaluated to 18 W K1. By considering a compressor heat transfer area of around 0.5 m2, a heat
transfer coefcient of 36 W m2 K1 is obtained. The latter seems
realistic with regard to the air movement inside the calorimeter.


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615


Heating lamps


Qcp ,amb

H w ,cal
Cooling coil


Qcal ,amb

Load cell



W fan
Fig. 4. Compressor calorimeter thermal balance.

Fig. 5. Compressor ambient loss.

Fig. 7. Comparison of the two methods.

Another possibility is to determine the refrigerant ow rate by

expressing the heat balance across the evaporator (as proposed
in the EN 13771-1 Standard [4]), which can be veried at low mass
ow rate with the Coriolis measurement, as shown in Fig. 7. It is
observed that for ows higher than 0.15 kg s1, both methods are
within 5%. At lower mass ow rates, this difference increases up
to 10%.
In analysis hereunder, the refrigerant mass ow rate obtained
from the evaporator thermal balance is used as the reference.

3.3. Compressor power

Fig. 6. Compressor ambient loss.

3.2. Refrigerant mass ow rate

Usually, the refrigerant ow rate is measured with a Coriolis
mass ow meter. Unfortunately, its measuring range is limited to
0.35 kg s1. For higher mass ow rates, it involves pressure losses
up to 3.0 bars, which is unacceptable.

A rst and surprising result is presented in Fig. 8, where the

compressor electric power is plotted against the exhaust pressure.
Here a linear dependency is observed. It was already addressed in a
previous study (Winandy [17]) who, by considering the uid as a
perfect gas, obtained the following equation to determine the compression work:

 P V
Pr;su  V s  c1
 rv ;in  c
rv ;in

rv,in is the built-in volume ratio, the ratio between the suction and
discharge volume, which is a geometrical characteristic of the


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

Fig. 8. Compressor electric power against exhaust pressure.

Fig. 10. Isentropic and volumetric efciencies for pressure ratios between 2.0 and

According to this result, the supply pressure effect can be cancelled for a compressor volume ratio given by:

r v ;in cc1

In that case the compression power depends linearly on the exhaust pressure.
According to test conditions carried out in this study, c for
R134a varies between 0.86 and 1.06 (according to Eq. (4)). By considering an isentropic compression and the R134a as an ideal gas,
the corresponding internal pressure ratio is of the order of 2.5
3.5. As the maximum of the isentropic efciency is reached when
the internal pressure ratio is equal to the external one, these results can be compared with the results presented in Fig. 9, where
the maximal isentropic efciency is reached for an external pressure ratio of the order of 2.5, which explains the surprising result
mentioned previously and shown in Fig. 8.

3.4. Compressor isentropic and volumetric efciency

Fig. 9 shows some orders of magnitude of the compressors
isentropic and volumetric efciency.
The isentropic efciency reaches a maximum value of around
72% corresponding to a pressure ratio comprised between 2.5
and 2.6. At lower pressure ratios, it decreases strongly due to the
un-adapted built-in volume ratio losses. At higher pressure ratios,

Fig. 9. Compressor isentropic and volumetric efciencies.

Fig. 11. Isentropic and volumetric efciencies for pressure ratios between 2.0 and

isentropic efciency decreases also, but the effect of the unadapted built-in volume ratio losses is lower.
The volumetric efciency decreases linearly when the pressure
ratio increases. At low pressure ratios, it approaches unity. In fact,
the volumetric efciency is calculated here by using the manufacturers swept volume. Perhaps it is slightly underestimated, which
can explain the values higher than unity. This could be also explained by the passive supercharging effect described by Nieter
In Fig. 9, a large scattering in the compressor efciency is observed for compressor ratios between 2.0 and 3.0. To explain this
scattering, Figs. 10 and 11 are added. They show the compressor
efciencies against the compressor exhaust pressure and compressor power respectively, for pressure ratios between 2.0 and 3.0.
According to Fig. 10, both isentropic and volumetric efciencies
decrease when the compressor exhaust pressure (or supply pressure) increases. This could be attributed to the compressors internal leakages, which increase when the compressor works at high
pressures. In Fig. 11, an important degradation on the isentropic
efciency is observed. This can be attributed to some additional
electro-mechanical losses that could appear at this high power
and pressures: it may be due to a lack of lubrication or to some
deformations of the scroll than can increase frictions.


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

Fig. 12. Schematic diagram of the compressor modelling.

4. Compressor modelling
4.1. Compressor model
The compressor modelling is carried out as proposed by Winandy et al. [18], who decomposed the evolution of the refrigerant inside the compressor in several steps, as shown in Fig. 12: supply
heating-up, isentropic compression, adiabatic compression at constant volume and exhaust cooling-down. This model is able to predict the compressor exhaust temperature, the refrigerant ow rate,
the ambient loss and the compressor electrical power, by using the
condensing and evaporating pressures, supply temperature, surrounding temperature and compressor speed as inputs. It uses four
predened parameters and six identied.
The scroll compressor is characterized by a xed built-in volume ratio rv,in imposed by its geometry. For a given refrigerant
and operating conditions, there is an internal pressure ratio corresponding to this volume ratio. If the external pressure ratio is different to the internal pressure ratio, the compressor is not adapted

and power losses are generated regarded to the adapted process.

Three situations can occur: either the internal volume ratio is equal
to the external pressure ratio (adapted), or it is higher (over-compression) or it is lower (under-compression). These three situations
are illustrated in Fig. 13a, b and c respectively.
The total internal work associated to the compression is:

win win;s win;v hr;in  hr;su1 v r;in  Pr;ex1  Pr;in

The compressor electrical (or shaft) power can be split into two
_ in and the compressor
terms: the internal compression power W
electromechanical losses W cp;loss , which in turn can be split into
_ loss;0
other two terms: constant electro-mechanical losses term W
and mechanical losses proportional to the internal compression
_ in .
power: a  W

_ cp W
_ in W
_ cp;loss W
_ in W
_ loss;0 a  W
_ in











_ loss;0 and a are parameters of the model. In this modelling the

compressor electromechanical losses are supposed to be transferred
directly to the ctitious isothermal wall, as shown in Fig. 12. In

Pex,1 = Pin





Fig. 13. (a) Adapted Pex = Pin, (b) over-compression Pex < Pin and (c) under-compression Pex > Pin.


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

addition, this wall transfers heat with the refrigerant and the compressor surrounding.
The adapted conditions (called here in) is determined by the
isentropic process from su1 to in and by considering the following

r v ;in

v r;su1
v r;in

where rv,in is the built-in volume ratio, a parameter of the model.

The refrigerant ow rate id predicted by the following equation:

_ r;cp Ncp  V s

v r;su1

where Vs is the compressor swept volume, which is a parameter of

the model. For electrical motor driven compressors, the actual compressor speed is determined as follows:

_ cp
Ncp Nnom;cp  1  C sd;m  W

The supply and exhaust heat transfer exchange are computed

with the e-NTU method, where the global heat transfer coefcients
are determined as:

AU su;cp

_ r;cp
AU su;cp;nom 
_ ref

AU ex;cp

_ r;cp
AU ex;cp;nom 
_ ref


Nominal compressor speed :

Reference mass flow rate :

Nnom 50 Hz
_ ref 0:25 kg s1

Slip coefficient :

C sd;m 0:004

Ambient heat transfer coefficient : AU cp;amb 18 W K1

For the slip coefcient Csd,m, the value recommended by Winandy [17]. The ambient heat transfer coefcient corresponds to the
value identied in the experimental analysis with the compressor
By minimization of the function h, the following parameters are
Model parameters:

V s 173 cm3 rv ;in 2:609

a 0:347 W_ loss;0 223 W
_ r;cp
AU su;cp 3000
W K1
_ ref

AU ex;cp 35

_ r;cp
_ ref

W K1

The identied supply heat transfer coefcient is very high. In

fact, according to the modelling results the supply heat exchanger
efciency must reach 1 to satisfy the measured conditions. Thus
the identied supply heat transfer coefcient does not have any
physical meaning. It shows that the model hypothesis of one ctitious isothermal wall is not very appropriate; it could be improved
by using two ctitious isothermal walls.

where AUsu,cp,nom and AUex,cp,nom are parameters of the model.
4.2. Model validation
Table 2 gives an idea of the extreme values for the 118 tests carried out to identify the compressor parameters. It can be observed
that the compressor was tested on a wide range of power, pressures and temperatures. Undoubtedly, the compressor supply temperature and the electrical power are the most constraining
variables; because both are limited to ensure a safe operation of
the compressor electric motor. Here, these two variables were
pushed to their limits.
In the experimental analysis it was mentioned that some scattering in the compressor efciency could be explained by a compressor internal leakage. This effect was analyzed in the
modelling and no-remarkable inuence was obtained. In fact,
internal leakage modelling is complex because the equivalent leakage area is inuenced by the oil circulation, thermal dilatation,
internal pressures, compliance on the orbiting scroll. . . and here
it is considered as a constant equivalent area. Moreover, the actual
model without internal leakage gives reasonable agreement with
the experimental measurement. Thus, it will not be considered
for this compressor.
To identify the compressor parameters, a function h is dened.
It depends on the relative errors of the following variables: compressor electric power, refrigerant mass ow rate, compressor wall
and exhaust temperatures. This function is dened as follows:

u X
u1 m X
V j;i;sim  V j;i;meas
n j1 i1
V j;i;meas

Fig. 14. Simulated against measured compressor electric power.


where Vj is the variable j, m is the number of variables considered

for the minimization and n is the number of tests. The parameters
are identied by minimization of the function h.
Prior to the minimization of the function h, by default, the following parameters are dened:

Fig. 15. Simulated against measured compressor refrigerant mass ow rate.


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

Fig. 16. Simulated against measured compressor exhaust temperature.

Fig. 17. Sensitivity analysis.

Motor slip (Nnom,cp  Ncp) in this modelling varies between 50

and 190 rpm for compressor power varying between 4 and 16 kW.
In the case of the swept volume the identied one is 4.5% higher
than that announced by the manufacturer. This could be explained
by the passive supercharging effect described by Nieter [11]. The
suction gas may start to be compressed before the end of the suction process, because of the decrease of the volume in the suction
pockets near the end of the suction process. In one of the experimental studies on a hermetic scroll he carried out, Winandy [17]
also identied a swept volume higher (6%) than the one given by
the manufacturer.
Figs. 1416 show the comparison between simulated and the
measured compressor electric powers, mass ow rates and exhaust
temperatures, respectively.
After parameter identication, the model seems to be very
accurate in the entire tested range, except for some tests at high
compressor power, where the compressor motor works outside
its maximal operating current. These tests were also included in
the parameter identication process, but their inuence is minimal: they are seven over a total of 118 tests.
The model error is dened using a method similar to the method recommended by the ASHRAE Guideline 2-2005 [1] for the
experimental data analysis. By analogy, the average error and the
standard deviation are dened according to the following


V i;mes  V i;sim
n i1
n i1


ei  ei 2
n i1


where Vi,mes is the measured variable and Vi,sim is the simulated one.
When the sample (or test number) is higher than 20, the condence
limits are dened by the following equation:

e  p


Fig. 18. Inputs, outputs and parameters of the compressor model.

Table 3 presents the average errors, the standard deviations, the

minimum and maximum deviation and the condence limits for
the different outputs of the simulation model.
A sensitivity analysis is also made, by varying the identied
parameters between 5%. The response of the model is evaluated
through the ratio h/hmin versus the ratio between the actual parameter and the identied one in Fig. 17. hmin represents the minimum
value reached by the function h, which is obtained when this is
evaluated with the identied parameters. It can be observed that
the model is highly sensitive to the swept volume parameter (Vs)
and, in a lesser way, to the built-in volume ratio parameter (rv,in)
and to the power losses coefcient (a). The other parameters
slightly disturb the response of the model against this variation.

4.3. Model simulation

In order to understand and to verify the reliability of the simulation model, a parametric study is carried out by varying the main

with Z = 1.96 for a probability of 95%.

Table 3
Error analysis.

Average error

Standard deviation

Minimal deviation

Maximal deviation

Condence limits


0.0 K

1.4 K

4.0 K

+6.1 K

0.3 K
+0.2 K
0.001 kg s1
+0.002 kg s1
0.224 kW
0.034 kW



0.001 kg s

0.008 kg s


0.129 kW

0.517 kW



0.008 kg s


2.459 kW (4.6%)

0.030 kg s



+0.375 kW (+15.3%)


C. Cuevas et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 30 (2010) 605615

Fig. 19. Effect of the compressor overheating on the isentropic and volumetric

inputs of the model: supply overheating, supply and exhaust pressure and pressure ratio. This simulation is carried out by considering the model ow diagram given in Fig. 18, where are indicated
the inputs and outputs of the model.
Fig. 19 shows the variation of the isentropic and volumetric efciencies against the compressor pressure ratio at two different
refrigerant overheating points. Only a slight degradation on these
efciencies is observed when the overheating decreases.
On the other hand, supply pressure seems to have a very strong
effect on the compressor efciencies, as shown in Fig. 20. This effect is stronger at low supply pressures (lower than 5 bar), where
the optimal external pressure ratio increases from around 2.0 to
3.0. In this zone, the isentropic efciency can vary between 10%
and 15% and volumetric efciency around 5%.
A last simulation is carried out to determine the effect of the exhaust pressure on the efciencies in Fig. 21. Here the model reproduces the same trend observed in the experimental results, but it is
not so pronounced at high compressor exhaust pressures. It conrms the hypothesis of the internal leakage, which is not considered here in the modelling, but which appears in the
experimental results and increases the electro-mechanical losses.
5. Conclusions

Fig. 20. Effect of the compressor supply pressure on the isentropic and volumetric

A detailed testing methodology is presented to characterize

refrigerant compressors with a very particular example. This methodology is able to give the compressor ambient losses, compressor
consumption, compressor refrigerant ow rate and supply and exhaust pressure and temperature.
The idea of this testing campaign is to take maximum advantage of the testing installation by characterizing the compressor
in a very wide range of testing conditions, in particular in terms
of condensing and evaporation pressures. Compressor performance is slightly perturbed by testing conditions. A little degradation on the compressor isentropic and volumetric efciencies was
observed at high pressures, which is here attributed to an internal
leakage. It was observed that this compressor is well adapted to
low pressure ratios, with a maximal isentropic efciency of 72%
for a pressure ratio of the order of 2.52.6.
A semi-empirical model is used to simulate the performance of
this compressor. Here, the parameters of this model are given and
can be used by other authors to simulate its performances individually or in an entire refrigeration system. In spite of the internal
leakage identied in the experimental analysis, a compressor model without leakage is sufcient to predict the compressor performance with an acceptable accuracy, except for some tests at high
compressor power where the compressor motor is pushed at its
maximal current.

Fig. 21. Effect of the compressor exhaust pressure on the isentropic and volumetric

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