In this paper a mini-channel aluminum heat exchanger used in a reversible heat pump is presented. Mini-channel finned heat exchangers are getting more and more interest for refrigeration systems, especially when compactness and low refrigerant charge are desired. Purpose of this paper was to characterize the mini-channel heat exchanger used as evaporator in terms of heat transfer performance and to study the refrigerant distribution in the manifold. The heat exchanger characterization was performed experimentally by means of a test rig built up for this purpose. It is composed of an air-to-air heat pump, air channels for the external and internal air circulation arranged in a closed loop, measurement sensors and an acquisition system. The overall heat transfer capacity was assessed. Moreover, in order to characterize the flow field of the refrigerant in the manifold of the heat exchanger, a numerical investigation of the fluid flow by means of CFD was performed. It was meant to evaluate the goodness of the present design and to identify possible solutions for the future improvement of the manifold design.
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