Sei sulla pagina 1di 12

International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322 www.elsevier.


Modeling of a domestic frost-free refrigerator

J.K. Gupta, M. Ram Gopal, S. Chakraborty*
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur 721302, India Received 14 October 2005; received in revised form 27 April 2006; accepted 29 June 2006 Available online 14 September 2006

Abstract In the present study, a comprehensive thermo-uidic model is developed for a domestic frost-free refrigerator. The governing equations, coupled with pertinent boundary conditions, are solved by employing a conservative control volume formulation, in the environment of a three-dimensional unstructured mesh. Experiments are also conducted to validate the results predicted by the present computational model. It is found that the computational and experimental results qualitatively agree with each other, although certain discrepancies can be observed in terms of the exact numerical values obtained. For the freezer compartment, the computationally predicted temperatures are somewhat higher than the experimental ones, whereas for the refrigerating compartment, the computed temperatures are lower than the corresponding experimental observations. The difference between experimental and computational results may be attributed to the lack of precise data on the airow rates and the unaccounted heat transfer rates through the door gaskets and the compressor. From the heat transfer and uid ow analysis, certain modications in the design are also suggested, so as to improve the performance of the refrigerator. 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Refrigerator; Modelling; Simulation; Performance; Comparison; Result; Experiment

Modelisation dun refrigerateur domestique fonctionnant sans formation de givre

Mots cles : Refrigerateur ; Modelisation ; Simulation ; Performance ; Comparaison ; Resultat ; Experimentation

1. Introduction The basic function of a domestic refrigerator is to preserve the quality of perishable food products. Several studies have shown that the quality of food products directly depends on temperature and air distribution inside the storage chambers. Hence, unsuitable temperatures and air velocities may cause
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 91 32 22282990; fax: 91 32 22282278. E-mail address: (S. Chakraborty). 0140-7007/$35.00 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijrefrig.2006.06.006

food to undergo a premature deterioration. Even if the average temperature inside the refrigerator cabinet is adequate, uncontrolled rise or fall in local temperatures may affect the quality of food products. In many cases, the air temperature may even turn out to be somewhat higher than the maximum permissible values specied in the standards, in practice [1]. Although the problem associated with off-design thermo-uidic conditions prevailing in a refrigerator appears to be very common, it has not been extensively studied. Only a few theoretical and experimental studies in this regard have been carried out on conventional, natural convection


J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322

Nomenclature Ec g h k p Pr Ra Ri T t u v V w x, y, z Eckert Number Acceleration due to gravity (m s2) Heat transfer coefcient (W m2 K1) Thermal conductivity (W m1 K1) Pressure (Pa) Prandtl Number Rayleigh Number Richardson Number Temperature (K) Thickness (m) X-component of velocity (m s1) Y-component of velocity (m s1) Velocity vector Z-component of velocity (m s1) Co-ordinates h f n r Similarity variable General scalar variable Kinematic viscosity (m2 s1) Density (kg m3)

Subscripts a Surroundings 0 Reference state N Ambient nb Neighbour P Grid point central to each computational cell r Radiative w Wall o Overall

Greek symbols a Thermal diffusivity (m2 s1) b Coefcient of thermal expansion (K1)

driven, manual defrost refrigerators [1e4]. However, the more commonly used modern-day frost-free domestic refrigerators have rarely been analyzed. Recently, Laguerre and Flick [2] have presented an analysis on heat transfer by natural convection in domestic unventilated refrigerators. They have carried out an approximate analysis on conventional refrigerators, by employing a two-dimensional analysis, under isothermal wall conditions. A major conclusion from their study is that in these refrigerators, the air is practically stagnant in the core region of the compartment, which does not ensure adequate rate of convective heat transfer between the air and refrigerated items. Although the above simplied analysis gives an approximate feel of the physical situation, impractical boundary conditions and two-dimensional approximations detract the case far away from the reality. Ding et al. [3], in a more recent study, have explored various means for improving thermal homogeneity inside a refrigerator, using CFD modeling, and have compared their numerical results with experiments. They have studied the unventilated refrigerators, in which the heat transfer takes place because of natural convection only. They have pointed out that the gap between the shelves and the walls (including the door) plays a major role in maintaining a uniform thermal state inside the system. As an improvement, they have suggested a new system, which includes an air duct and a blower. However, mathematical details of the model and effects of operating conditions on the refrigerator performance have not been discussed in their study. A similar study, based on conventional refrigerators has been carried out by Fukuyo et al. [4]. While similar modeling efforts have been only a few, those have only been restricted to idealized boundary conditions, without considering intricate aspects of a frost-free refrigerating

system. In fact, no single study addressing a detailed thermo-uidic analysis of frost-free domestic refrigerators has been reported in the literature. This may be attributed to the uid-dynamically complex and product-specic nature of frost-free domestic refrigerators. Transport phenomena in the refrigerant compartment of such refrigerators are essentially of mixed convection type, while those in the freezer are usually forced convection driven. The problem is inherently transient and three-dimensional in nature. To avoid the associated complexities, a certain degree of empiricism is always present in engineering design of such refrigerating systems. In this context, a comprehensive numerical model may turn out to be extremely useful in designing such types of refrigerators, for an optimal performance. The aim of the present work is to develop a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model for domestic frostfree refrigerators, for prediction of temperature and velocity elds in the freezer and refrigerating compartments. Using this model, effects of various operating and design parameters on the refrigerator performance can be studied, leading to an optimal design and performance estimation of the refrigerator. Experiments are also performed to obtain the temperature variations inside the compartments, and the numerical results are subsequently compared with experimental ndings, in order to quantitatively assess various features of the numerical model adopted. 2. Mathematical modeling 2.1. The physical model The main objective of a refrigerator is to keep the stored food items at low temperatures to arrest their rate of

J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322


deterioration with time. To achieve this purpose, the refrigerated space is kept at a temperature lower than that of its surroundings. Hence, there would always be a heat transfer from the surroundings to the inner compartments and from the refrigerated items (which actually act as heat source). The refrigerator considered here is a frost-free refrigerator, in which the evaporator is not directly exposed to the refrigerating compartments. Rather, air is rst made to ow over the evaporator, so that it can be simultaneously cooled and dehumidied. The cold and dry air is then blown into the compartments. The air mass takes heat and moisture from the products being refrigerated and surroundings, and becomes relatively warm and humid in this process. This warm and humid air stream is again made to ow over the evaporator coils, where it again becomes cold and dry by rejecting sensible and latent heat to the refrigerant owing through the evaporator. This cycle keeps on repeating over the entire regime of operation. The side view of a typical frost-free refrigerator (including the airow path), mentioned as above, is schematically shown in Fig. 1. As shown in the gure, the cold air rst ows inside the refrigerating (fresh food) and freezer chambers, and extracts heat from the refrigerated items kept at those locations. Exit air streams from these chambers eventually mix just beneath the evaporator. The air stream then ows over the evaporator (placed at the back of the freezer), where it is cooled and dehumidied. Subsequently, the fan blows the cold air into the freezer inlet, from which a portion ows into the freezer, while the rest enters the refrigerating compartment. A defrost heater is placed just below the evaporator which removes periodically the frost formed on the

evaporator coils. In convectional refrigerators, defrosting is done by manually switching off the refrigerator, and allowing the frozen layer to melt on account of heat transfer from the surroundings. In frost-free refrigerators, however, this is done automatically by a combination of defrost heatere timerethermostat control. From the above discussions, it is apparent that modeling of a domestic frost-free refrigerator essentially requires appropriate representations of the freezer compartment (which is normally maintained at a temperature of around 18  C or less) and the refrigerating compartment (which is maintained at an average temperature of about 5  C). In most of the domestic refrigerators, the refrigerating compartment has the following three parts: 1. Chiller compartment: it is maintained at an average temperature of around 0e4  C and is used to store food products such as milk, sh, meat that are most susceptible to thermal degradation. 2. Vegetable compartment: it is used to store vegetables, and is maintained at temperatures of around 5e13  C. 3. Shelves: these are kept at 4e7  C (approximately), typically for the purpose of storing fresh food, cooked/ processed food items and beverages. In the present analysis, the freezer and the refrigerating compartments are considered as separate units. The mathematical model is developed for the inner compartments only. For a more detailed understanding of the geometric features of the ow domain under concern, details of the freezer and refrigerator control volumes are described, as follows.

Fig. 1. Heat transfer and airow in a refrigerator.


J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322

Fig. 2. Freezer-control volume.

Fig. 2 shows an explored schematic diagram of freezer compartment. The cold air rst enters into the inner inlet and then enters into the compartment through inner inlet ports. A part of the air, which comes out of inner inlet ports,

goes into the portion above the shelf, and the remaining air enters directly into the area below the shelf, through the gap between the back wall and shelf. The air which is above the shelf then descends through the door shelf, exits through the

Fig. 3. Refrigerating compartment e control volume.

J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322


inner outlet port, and nally from the outlet. Similarly, the air stream owing below the shelf circulates in that region and exits through the outlet. Fig. 3 shows a schematic diagram of refrigerating compartment. Here, both the inlets and outlets are located at the top of the compartment. The cold air, after getting out of the front inlet, ows downwards, confronts the chiller wall, and eventually re-circulates inside the compartment. This air, after coming back from the chiller, mixes with the air blown through the back inlet ports. The mixed air descends due to buoyancy, circulates through the shelves, and nally exits through the door shelves (just above which the outlet ports are located). 2.2. Major assumptions, governing equations and boundary conditions For mathematical analysis, the following simplifying assumptions are made: 1. Fluid ow is taken to be incompressible. This is justied by very low Mach numbers Max103 , typical to the present system. 2. Viscous dissipation terms in the energy equation are neglected, which is justied due to low values of the product of Eckert number and Prandtl number Ec Prw104 or less. 3. A steady state case is being analyzed. In reality there is a continuous on and off cycling for compressor, which brings transient nature to the problem. A steady state or lowest attainable temperature state can be achieved by cutting off the thermostat and letting the compressor work continuously. 4. The refrigerator is analyzed in an unloaded condition, and effects of air leakage or frosting and the associated mass transfer mechanisms are not considered. This is a simplifying assumption. 5. Boussinesq assumption is employed for ow modeling inside the refrigerating compartment, which is governed by mixed convection Richardson numberRi Gr=Re2 w1, whereas buoyancy effects are neglected for the freezer component, because of strong inertial effects Riw0:05. Variations of all thermo-physical properties are assumed to be small, over the range of operating temperatures. 6. Radiation heat transfer within the refrigerator is not considered. In the refrigerating compartment, none of the walls are in direct contact with evaporator, and the temperature difference between the surfaces facing each other (shelves, side walls) is quite small (2e4  C). Thus, the radiation heat exchanges between these surfaces can be neglected. Analogous considerations can be made for the freezer compartment as well. 7. The ow is assumed to be laminar in both the compartments. In the refrigerating compartment, this can be justied by virtue of the Rayleigh number Raw108

or less being well below the transitional regime for onset of turbulence. The above Rayleigh number estimation is based on a characteristic length scale that is either the height or the width of the heat transfer surface under concern (depending on whichever is larger) and the maximum temperature difference prevailing within the walls. Such length scales and temperature scales are adopted so as to obtain an estimation of the highest possible Rayleigh number, corresponding to the prevailing free convective heat transfer conditions. Estimation of this upper limit, in turn, ensures whether one is safely within the regime of laminar transport or not. The Reynolds number corresponding to the forced ow conditions over the solid boundaries is estimated to be of the order of 104, based on the maximum ow velocities entering the respective compartment and the maximum length in that direction (for freezer it is the maximum length in z direction, for refrigerating compartment it is the height of the compartment) of ow. The above is also one order less than the transitional Reynolds number for the onset of turbulence. At the inlet ports, the Reynolds number is to the tune of 103, which again explains the laminar nature of ow. Here, the Reynolds number is based on average velocity and hydraulic diameter of ports, in accordance with the convention for internal ows. 8. The condenser and evaporator coils are considered as isothermal walls, because of the nearly isothermal phase change processes associated with these components. These are incorporated as boundary conditions in the domain with nite conductive resistances. 9. Heat transfer between freezer and fresh food compartments is neglected. 10. Uniform velocity and temperature proles are assumed at the inlet. Based on the above assumptions, the heat transfer and uid ow equations can be described as follows: Continuity vu vv vw 0 vx vy vz X-momentum conservation vu vu vu 1 vp nV2 u u v w vx vy vz r0 vx Y-momentum conservation vv vv vv 1 vp nV2 v gbT T0 u v w vx vy vz r0 vy Z-momentum conservation vw vw vw 1 vp nV2 w u v w vx vy vz r0 vz 4 3 2 1


J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322

Table 1 Boundary conditions for the freezer compartment Boundary Inlet Outlet Top wall Left side wall Right side wall Bottom Back wall Front wall Temperature Uniform temperature prole, TN 251.7 K Zero normal gradient Convective, TN 302 K, Convective, TN 302 K, Convective, TN 302 K, Adiabatic Convective, TN 251 K, Convective, TN 302 K, Velocity Velocity inlet with uniform prole VN 0:50^ 0^ 1^ m s1 i j k Zero normal gradient No slip No slip No slip No slip No slip No slip

ho 0.27 W m2 K1 ho 0.37 W m2 K1 ho 0.37 W m2 K1 ho 11.11 W m2 K1 ho 0.59 W m2 K1

Energy conservation   vT vT vT aV2 T u v w vx vy vz

2.3. Numerical implementation 5 The computational domains, as depicted in Figs. 2 and 3, are discretized using a mesh generating software, GAMBIT. Adequate care is taken to capture the steep gradients of the eld variables near the solid boundaries. In order to achieve this purpose, both hydrodynamic and thermal boundary layer thicknesses are estimated and 10e15 computational cells have been designed to lie within the same, so as to obtain sufcient resolutions close to the uidesolid interfaces. A comprehensive mesh-sensitivity study has also been undertaken, and it has been revealed that a further renement in the grid resolution does not alter the numerical solutions appreciably. The above choice of mesh distribution, therefore, happens to be an optimized compromise between the requirements of numerical accuracy and computational economy. The mesh generated as above is subsequently exported to a commercial CFD software, FLUENT. The governing equations mentioned as above are discretized using a nite volume method, where the overall computational domain is divided into nite-sized elemental control volumes.

Boundary conditions appropriate to the above system of equations are summarized in Tables 1 and 2, for the freezer and refrigerator compartments, respectively. The values of overall heat transfer coefcients are estimated; based on the thermal resistances offered by various heat transfer paths, as follows: 1 1 tw ho ha hr kw where ha is the ambient heat transfer coefcient, hr is an equivalent heat transfer coefcient to account for the radiation effects, tw is the wall insulation thickness and kw is the thermal conductivity of the wall. Heat transfer within the shelves is not modeled in detail. Rather, the shelves are modeled as geometrical obstacles to the ow, with a nite conduction heat transfer resistance.
Table 2 Boundary conditions for refrigerating compartment Boundary Inlet Front Back Outlet Top wall Left side wall Left wall 1 Left door wall Right side wall Right wall 1 Left door wall Bottom Back wall Front wall Temperature

Velocity Velocity inlet p with uniform prole VN 0:2= 20^ 1^ 1^ m s1 i j k Velocity inletp uniform prole with i j k VN 0:45= 20^ 1^ 1^ m s1 Zero normal gradient No slip No slip No slip No slip No slip No slip No slip No slip

Uniform temperature prole, TN 253 K Uniform temperature prole, TN 253 K Zero normal gradient Adiabatic Convective, TN 327 K, ho 0.44 W m2 K1 Convective, TN 302 K, ho 0.40 W m2 K1 Convective, TN 327 K, ho 0.44 W m2 K1 Convective, TN 302 K, ho 0.40 W m2 K1 Convective, TN 302 K, ho 0.27 W m2 K1 Convective, TN 327 K, ho 0.37 W m2 K1 Convective, TN 302 K, ho 0.59 W m2 K1

J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322


Discretized equations for each variable are formulated by integrating the corresponding governing equation over the three-dimensional computational control volumes. An unstructured grid system with hexahedral elements is used to discretize the computational domain. A co-located scheme is used, where both the scalar and vector quantities are stored at the cell centers. The face values for the convection terms are interpolated from the cell center values following the power law scheme [5]. The values of pressure at the cell faces are interpolated following the PRESTO scheme, which uses the discrete continuity balance for a staggered control volume centered around the cell face to compute the staggered (i.e., face) pressure. The procedure is similar in spirit to the staggered-grid schemes used with structured meshes [5]. On simplication, the nal discretized equations for each of the conserved scalars take the following form: X aP fP anb fnb zU DV 6

Table 3 Overall mass and energy balance Quantity Mass ow rate in (kg s1) Mass ow rate out (kg s1) Relative error in mass balance (%) Cooling capacity (W) Heat transfer from surrounding to the inner compartment (W) Relative error in energy balance (%) Freezer Refrigerating compartment

0.005281034 0.0013260324 0.005281034 0.0013260324 0 0 9.197922 33.2058 9.140672 33.0608 0.577 0.4366

where subscript P represents a given grid point, while subscript nb represents the neighbors of the given grid point P, f is a general variable such as velocity or enthalpy, a is the coefcient calculated based on the power law scheme,DV is the volume of the control volume. The coefcient aP is dened as: X anb zP DV 7 aP

The terms zU and zP are used in the source term linearization as: z zU zP fP 8

A point implicit (GausseSeidel) linear equation solver is used in conjunction with an algebraic multigrid (AMG) method to solve the resultant scalar system of equations for the dependent variable in each cell and the pressureevelocity coupling is achieved by SIMPLE algorithm [5]. Exploiting a vertical symmetry of the problem domain, one half of the control volumes depicted in Figs. 2 and 3 is essentially solved. 3. Results and discussions Results are obtained for frost-free refrigerator working under steady state (with thermostat shorted) and under noload conditions. A summary of the important numerical parameters, corresponding to the above-mentioned simulation, is presented in Table 3. From the table, it is evident that the present model satises overall mass and energy balance conditions, within acceptable tolerances, both for the freezer as well as the refrigerating compartment. 3.1. Airow and temperature variations in the freezer compartment The numerical model employed for analyzing the freezer compartment considers a three-dimensional, incompressible, and laminar forced convection. Fig. 4(a) shows the velocity

vectors at the near side panel, while Fig. 4(b) shows the temperature distribution at the same. It can be seen from Fig. 4(a) that a large portion of air rst ows over the top, while a small portion comes down through the gap between the main shelf and the back wall. Portion of air that is at the top ows from back wall to the front wall, subsequently comes down through the door shelves, and nally ows out through the exit ports. Fig. 4(a) clearly shows that the model takes into account all the shelves and even the slots in the door shelves. It is also quite clear from Fig. 4(a) that the air entering at the top can only come down either through the gap between the back wall and the main shelf, or via the slots at the door shelves, or via the gap between the door shelves and main shelf. Portion of the air that ows down through the gap between the back wall and main shelf also moves from back to front, and nally exits through the outlet. Regarding the temperature prole, it is clear from Fig. 4(b) that though the temperature is almost uniform above and below the shelves, portion below the shelf is warmer due to insufcient airow in that region. Fig. 5(a) shows that the variation of velocity magnitude is from 0 to 0.33 m s1 while Fig. 5(b) shows the variation of temperature along the central vertical line, which varies from 252.75 to 255.75 K. The velocities are found to increase as one moves away from the solid boundaries, and the peak value occurs at a location of about 0.1 m down the top, within the portion of the freezer compartment that is located above the shelf. A lower value of peak velocity occurs in the region below the shelf, just outside the thin hydrodynamic boundary layer formed adjacent to the solid boundary at the bottom. Regarding the thermal eld, from Fig. 5(b) it can be seen that the top wall temperature is the highest. The temperature suddenly drops outside the thermal boundary layer formed in the vicinity. Within the rest of the freezer compartment located above the shelf, the temperature is virtually uniform, because of a strong dominance of forced convection mechanisms. Thermal conditions in the region below the shelf are warmer, due to lower rates of airow in that region. Fig. 6 shows the variation of temperature along the central longitudinal axis, as one moves from one lateral side to the other. From the gure, it is quite clear that the variations along this direction are negligible (except near the wall), and


J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322

Fig. 4. (a) Velocity vectors at the near side panel (x 0.1 m). (b) Temperature variation at the near side panel (x 0.1 m).

the bulk temperature is quite uniform. The steep gradients at the walls occur because of the formation of thin thermal boundary layers in the vicinity, as a consequence of low thermal diffusivity of air. 3.2. Airow and temperature variations in refrigerating compartment The ow in refrigerating compartment is threedimensional, incompressible, and a combined consequence

of free and forced convections (i.e., mixed convection). Fig. 7(a) shows the velocity vectors within the refrigerating compartment, at the symmetry plane, while Fig. 7(b) shows the corresponding temperature prole. It is seen from Fig. 7(a) that the air from the front inlet rst goes into the chiller compartment. Since this air is cold, a gravitational stability makes it to settle down on the chiller shelf itself. However, as the air gains heat from the surroundings, it becomes lighter. Finally, the hot air ows back and mixes with the cold air stream emanating from the inlets located at the

J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322


Fig. 5. (a) Velocity magnitude variation at the line of variation (x 0.27 m, z 0.15 m). (b) Temperature variation at the line of variation (x 0.27 m, z 0.15 m).

back. The resultant mass of cold air ows down due to buoyancy effects. A part of this cold air stream enters the rst shelf, where again it rst settles down on the shelf, subsequently gets re-circulated as it mixes with the inlet stream of air owing at the back, and the combined stream ows down through the gap between the back wall and the main

Fig. 7. (a) Velocity vectors at the symmetry plane of refrigerating compartment (x 0.27 m). (b) Temperature distribution on the symmetry plane of refrigerating compartment (x 0.27 m).

Fig. 6. Temperature distributions on the center line of the shelf of freezer (x 0.02 m, y 0.165 m).

shelf. This happens at each and every shelf, and eventually the air reaches the lid of vegetable compartment. A warmer air stream subsequently rises from the bottom part of the door, mixes with the side air streams, and nally exits through the outlet.


J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322

The temperature prole in the refrigerating compartment is shown Fig. 7(b). It can be seen from the gure that the temperature in the chiller compartment is the lowest, and the temperature increases as one moves along the downward direction. Such a gradient of temperature is established on account of the advective effects imposed by the cold air stream that rst enters into the chiller and subsequently goes into the shelves located below. So far as the portion adjacent to the door is concerned, the temperature rises from the bottom to the top, in accordance with the prevailing direction of ow. Further, since a major portion of the cold air stream descends through the gap between the back wall and door shelves, this portion remains colder relative to its surroundings. Fig. 8(a) shows that the velocity magnitude variation is from 0 to 0.19 m s1 while Fig. 8(b) shows the temperature variation, along the central vertical axis located on the plane of symmetry and it varies from 265 to 277 K. The velocity prole between any two adjacent solid surfaces (shelves or walls) does not exhibit any regular pattern, by virtue of a combined effect of the differing thermal elds and diverse conditions of forced ow (a variable mixed convection pattern, in totality). Maximum velocity is observed at the portion between vegetable compartment lid and bottom shelf just above the vegetable crisper lid. The vegetable crisper

lid acts as an obstacle and allows very little amount of air to go down. It is actually the part of total cold air from the inlet which could come through the gaps between the shelves and back wall and the part which came back after getting re-circulated within the cavity between the shelves. This is much higher than the cold air part circulating within all the enclosures between the two shelves. Hence a maximum is observed at this location as the air is cold and will try to settle on the lid. Regarding the temperature variation, it can be seen from Fig. 8(b) that temperatures at the lowest point of the troughs correspond to a local minima. Since the cold air rst settles on the shelf and then rises, the bottom of each shelf corresponds to the location of an associated cold spot. On an average, there is a trend of increasing cold spot temperature, as one descends down the central vertical axis. This is because of the fact that the cold air exchanges heat from its surroundings, as it moves down, and thereby becomes warmer. Fig. 9 shows the temperature variation along the central horizontal axis, as one moves from the one side to the other. It is clear from the gure that the temperature is almost uniform in this direction. The chiller compartment is at the lowest temperature, while the temperature increases as one moves down from that zone. Because of the presence of the inlet ports, temperature of the chiller is considerably lower at the center, in comparison to the same at other locations. 3.3. Comparison with experiments Experiments are carried out to capture temperature variation in a 320 l frost-free refrigerator, in an unloaded and thermostat-shorted condition, so that steady state (lowest attainable temperature) conditions can be achieved. A data acquisition system was used with K-type thermocouples to keep track of temperature at walls and shelves for about 22 h at every 1 s interval. The uncertainty in temperature measurement [6] is 1  C. When the thermostat is shorted, the compressor and the fan are maintained in a running condition. When the compressor is on, the air is cooled as it

Fig. 8. (a) Variation of velocity magnitude at the line of variation of refrigerating compartment (x 0.27 m, y 0.19 m). (b) Variation of temperature at the line of variation of refrigerating compartment (x 0.27 m, z 0.19 m).

Fig. 9. Temperature distribution on the center line (z 0.19 m) of chiller base (y 0.9 m) and shelves (upper at y 0.5 m and lower at y 0.3 m) for refrigerating compartment.

J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322


Fig. 10. Comparison between experimental and computational results at the symmetry plane of freezer (x 0.27 m, z 0.15 m).

Fig. 11. Comparison between experimental and computational results at the symmetry plane of refrigerating compartment (x 0.27 m, z 0.19 m).

ows over the evaporator coil. The air, after passing over the evaporator coils, enters into the compartment and gains heat from the walls, as well as from the air located within the compartment itself. The hotter air stream again ows out of the compartment, and subsequently over the evaporator coils, as it gets cooled. This cycle continues. As the surrounding temperature is constant, in principle, a point is reached when the heat gain from surroundings becomes equal to evaporator cooling capacity, i.e., a steady state is attained, corresponding to the lowest possible temperatures prevailing inside the compartments. Since the numerical model computes for a steady state, the computational results are validated against the lowest attainable temperature test, mentioned as above. Fig. 10 depicts the temperature variation, along the central vertical axis on which the thermocouple points are located, within the freezer compartment. It is clear from the numerical results shown in Fig. 10 that while moving from the top to the bottom, the temperature rst drops drastically, and then remains nearly a constant. Finally, the temperature rises slowly, as one proceeds towards the bottom. The trend shown by the experimental data is also the same. A comparison between experimental and numerical predictions of temperature, at chosen locations along the central vertical axis, is summarized in Table 4. Differences between the computed and measured values can be attributed to errors in experimental measurements and also to insufcient information about the local airow rates occurring in practice.
Table 4 Comparison between experimental and computational temperatures at outlet and shelves for freezer Point Temperature (K) Computational Upper shelf Lower shelf Outlet 253.4 253.5 253.9 Experimental 252.3 1 252.9 1 254.3 1

Fig. 11 shows the temperature variations along the central vertical axis, within the refrigerator compartment. Here also, a similar trend in experimentally and numerically obtained temperature proles can be observed. The computationally obtained temperatures, however, are always found to be on a lower side, which may be attributed to the unaccountable heat leakage into the compartment from the door gaskets (not considered in the numerical model). Moreover, in the numerical analysis the temperature of the back wall is assumed to be a constant and same as the condenser temperature (i.e., 327 K), which in reality might be an underestimate, because of the presence of the compressor and the de-superheating condenser coils. Table 5 depicts a comparison between experimental and computational values of temperature, at the shelf and the outlet. Both the numerical and experimental results show that the temperature at the lower shelf is lower than that at the upper one, because of the fact that the ow in this region is directed from the bottom to the top. Table 6 shows a comparison between the experimentally obtained and computationally obtained cooling capabilities, as calculated from the inlet and outlet temperatures and the pertinent airow rates. It is quite clear that the values predicted by the model are on the lower side. This may be attributed to the small uncertainties regarding the actual air mass ow rates and due to additional heat leakages into the compartment through the gaskets and compressor.
Table 5 Comparison between experimental and computational temperatures at outlet and shelves for refrigerating compartment Point Temperature (K) Computational Upper shelf Lower shelf Outlet 275.75 273.4 277.4 Experimental 283.7 1 282.1 1 284.9 1


J.K. Gupta et al. / International Journal of Refrigeration 30 (2007) 311e322

Table 6 Comparison between experimental and computational cooling capacities Cooling capacity (W) Experimental Freezer Refrigerating compartment 13.5 1.35 42.1 4.21 Computational 9.198 33.2058

4. Conclusions In the present study, a thermo-uidic model for a domestic frost-free refrigerator is developed, and is simulated by employing a nite volume method, with an unstructured meshing. Experiments on temperature measurement are also conducted, in order to assess the pertinent predictions from the numerical model. It is found that the trends in computational and experimental results are qualitatively similar, though there is a perceptible offset. For the freezer compartment, the computationally predicted temperatures are marginally higher than the corresponding experimental values, which may be attributed to the lack of exact data on airow rates. In case of the refrigerating compartment, the computationally predicted temperatures are lower than the experimental ones. This may be attributed to the heat leakage through the door gaskets, which is not considered in the computational model. Also the temperature behind the back wall is considered to be uniform, which in reality, varies from de-superheating to sub-cooling temperatures. On the basis of the results obtained, a few modications may be suggested to improve the performance of the refrigerator. In case of the freezer compartment, the gap between

the back wall and main shelf may be increased, so as to enhance the airow rates. In case of the refrigerating compartment, the average temperature in the chiller zone happens to be slightly higher than the desirable standards, which can be lowered by increasing the mass ow rate of air from the front inlet. However, at the same time the mass ow rate through the back inlets needs to be reduced, so that the total mass ow rate can be kept constant. Also, the door shelf should be located such that it is sufciently away from the plane of the main shelf, so as to allow more air to ow down and subsequently rise from the front portion of the main shelf, thereby reducing the re-circulations, leading to the utilization of the cold air in a more effective and energyefcient manner.

[1] O. Laguerre, E. Derens, B. Palagos, Study on domestic refrigerator temperature and analysis of factors affecting temperature: a French survey, International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 653e659. [2] O. Laguerre, D. Flick, Heat transfer by natural convection in domestic refrigerators, Journal of Food Engineering 62 (2004) 79e88. [3] G. Ding, H. Qiao, Z. Lu, Ways to improve thermal uniformity inside a refrigerator, Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 1827e1840. [4] K. Fukuyo, T. Tanammi, H. Ashida, Thermal uniformity and rapid cooling inside refrigerators, International Journal of Refrigeration 26 (2003) 249e255. [5] S.V. Patankar, Numerical Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow, Hemisphere/McGrawHill, 1980. [6] S.J. Kline, F.A. McClintock, Describing uncertainties in single sample experiments, Mechanical Engineering 75 (1953) 3e8.