Pressure loss associated with flow area change in micro-channels
Chalfi, Toufik Yacine
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Pressure drop across miniature-scale flow disturbances, including abrupt flow area changes, is an important source of error and confusion in the literature. Such pressure drops are frequently encountered in experiments, where they are often estimated using methods and correlations that have been developed based on experimental data obtained in conventional systems. However, physical arguments as well as the relatively few available experimental observations indicate that such pressure drops in microchannel systems are likely to be different than what is known about similar phenomena in conventional flow systems. Experimental data dealing with pressure drop associated with two-phase flow across abrupt flow area changes in microchannels are scarce, however, and the available data are insufficient for the development of reliable predictive methods. In this investigation, experiments were conducted using a test section consisting of two capillaries, one with 0.84 mm, and the other with 1.6 mm inner diameters. A multitude of pressure transducer ports were installed along the two capillaries, and allowed for the measurement of the pressure gradients over the entire test section. The test section allowed for the measurement of frictional pressure gradients in the two straight channels, as well as pressure drops caused by the flow area expansion and contraction depending on the flow direction, for single-phase as well as two-phase flows. These measurements were performed over a wide range of parameters, using air as the gaseous phase, and room-temperature water as the liquid phase. The single-phase flow data were compared with existing conventional correlations, and with predictions of CFD simulations using the Fluent computer code.