Theoretical and Experimental Investigation of Flow Straighteners in U-type Pulse Tube Cryocoolers
Badgujar, A. D.
Atrey, M. D.
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The U-type Pulse Tube Cryocooler (PTC) involves a change in the direction of gas flow as it proceeds from the regenerator to the pulse tube. The sharp U-bend has an adverse effect on pulse tube cooling action due to formation of eddies and undesirable mixing in the cold end of the pulse tube. The present work deals with experimentation and CFD modeling related to U-type PTCs. Two cases of ‘U’ bends have been studied; gradual ‘U’ bends and sharp ‘U’ bends. Experimentation has been carried out using copper screens of 100-mesh size as flow straighteners. The optimum performance in terms of low temperature for the case of a gradual U bend was achieved with a stack of 18 flow-straightener screens. The no-load temperature for this case of a gradual ‘U’ bend, with and without flow straighteners, was 57.7 K and 88.8 K, respectively, for a charging pressure of 16 bar. When the gradual 180 degree bend at the cold end was replaced by a sharp U bend, the no load temperature increased from 88.8 K to 137 K without flow straighteners. In order to understand the role of flow straighteners in PTC, a CFD model was developed in FLUENT. The flow straighteners are modeled as a homogeneous porous medium. The results show that the flow straighteners significantly affect velocity patterns in the pulse tube. The theoretical study showed that there exists an optimum number of flow straighteners which improve the cooling power and efficiency of the pulse tube cryocooler. This was in agreement with the experimental results obtained earlier.