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[ EN ]

This invention relates to a power unit combining a generator and a condenser for an absorption heat exchange system. More particularly, it is an apparatus for use with either an absorption heat pump system or an absorption refrigeration system.
The apparatus comprises a plurality of coaxially positioned pipes surrounding a vertically oriented central pipe. Each pipe is sufficiently larger, progressively from the center axis, to form annular chambers that are contiguous one to the next surrounding the center pipe. The chambers are closed at the upper and lower ends by members that are connected to the central pipe and the plurality of surrounding pipes. A source of heat is placed to provide heat into the interior of the center pipe. A means is provided to bring a cooling fluid into contact with the outer surface of the pipe of largest diameter. Also a means is provided for discharging a refrigerant-absorbant solution upon the inner walls of the annular chambers to desorb the refrigerant from the absorbant on the inner walls of the chambers and to condense refrigerant on the outer walls of the chambers. The refrigerant-absorbant solution and the refrigerant are separately collected at the bottom of the chambers for circulation to appropriate components of an absorption heat exchange system.
In absorption refrigeration systems, which operate primarily through heat exchange between various concentrations of chemical solutions, the rate of heat transfer and the effectiveness of heat transfer are very important. Conf igurational changes in the apparatus through which the refrigeration chemicals are transferred have an important bearing on the rate and effectiveness of heat transfer in the system.
Traditionally, in an absorption refrigeration system the generator comprises a reservoir in which the refrigerant solution pair is subjected to heat, either by the passage of heat through tubes or by the application of heat to the bottom and sides of the reservoir container.

U. S. Patent 3,495,420 - Loweth et al., shows a typical unit for an absorption system.
Also, as shown in the above patent, a condenser of reservoir-like configuration is in adjacent spaced. position. Refrigerant vaporizes in the generator chamber and is transferred over to the condenser chamber. In this conventional system the heat applied at the generator is wasted to a great extent or ineffectively applied to a large portion of the solution in the reservoir. In the same fashion the cooling applied at the condenser is not effectively used.
In the description of this invention, it is important that a clear distinction be made between solutions entering and leaving the power unit. Therefore, adopted herein is the notation of the standard setting body on absorption systems in the U. S., the ASHRAE Technical Committee (8.3) on Absorption Machines. Their notation is given in the following quote from the ASHRAE 1979 1 Equipment Handbook, Chapter 14:
"To avoid confusion of terminology in the
absorption field, ASHRAE Technical Committee"
8.3 recommends the following standardized 5 terms for the absorbent-refrigerant solution.
Weak absorbent is that solution which has
picked up refrigerant in the absorber and is
then weak in its affinity for refrigerant.
Strong absorbent is that solution which ° has had refrigerant driven from it in the
generator and, therefore, has a strong
affinity for refrigerant."
In co-pending application. Serial No. 177,695, fil August 31, 1980, assigned to Battelle Developme Corporation, a subsidary of Battelle Memorial Institu the assignee of this patent application, improvements ha been disclosed that are directed to the conf iguration attributes of heat exchangers in absorption systems. T disclosures therein, and in any continuation
continuations-in-part thereof, are made a part of th specification by reference.
The invention herein is a further improvement in t heat exchange units of absorption systems. In th invention the generator (s) and condenser (s) are combin in a single-or multiple-stage unit which is termed here a "power unit". This power unit is so termed in referen to the fact that it combines the two types of componen of the ref igeration system which are on the high pressu side of the system where the high temperature (drivin energy is applied. The other portions of the syste including the evaporator and the absorber, operate at relatively lower pressure.

It is an object of this invention to provide a configuration of apparatus and structure such that the generator and condenser are combined, with operative portions of one forming other operative portions of the other, and with one integrated with the other so that the heat transfer of one is integrated with the heat transfer of the other. Another object is to provide a plurality of stages in a power unit to provide an optimum heat transfer efficiency with a minimum of space and cost, through simplicity of the arrangement and construction.
Other features and objects of the invention will be apparent from the following drawings and description, as well as the appended claims.

Figure 1 is a schematic view of a typical prior art conventional absorption refrigeration system in which the invention is practiced.
Figure 2 is a partial sectional elevation view of the apparatus of this invention.
Figure 3 is a sectional plan view taken in the plane 3-J of Figure 2.
Referring to Figure 1, a conventional absorption refrigeration/heating system 10 is shown schematically including a generator 11, condenser 12, evaporator 13, expansion valve 14, absorber 15, pump 16, and recuperator 17. The power unit of this invention carries out and combines the functions of the generator 11 and condenser

12 of the conventional system 10. The dash lines encompass that portion of the system 10 that is combined in the power unit 30.
The operation of conventional absorption heating/cooling systems is well known and requires little further explantion. In a typical system, water is a refrigerant dissolved in a lithium bromide-water solution, often called the "solution pair". Water is absorbed in the lithium bromide solution to varying degrees throughout the system and the heat of absorption is added or extracted to produce heating and cooling effects.
The solution pair enters the generator through the conduit 20 where it is subjected to heat. The applied heat builds up the pressure and desorbs refrigerant water in the form of vapor which is conveyed through line 23 to the condenser 12. There, external ambient cooling condenses the water vapor to liquid, which is conveyed through the line 22 and through the expansion valve 14, where heat is absorbed in the evaporator 13. In a refrigeration system the heat absorbed in the evaporator 13 is from the cooling load. The low pressure vapor passes through line 24 to the absorber 15 where ambient cooling allows the lithium bromide solution to absorb the water vapor. The solution pair is then conveyed to the recuperator 17 by the pump 16. The recuperator is a counterflow heat exchanger where heat from the absorbent lithium bromide coming from the generator 11 through line 18 heats the solution pair on its way to the absorber 15 through line 19.
In the heating cycle the cooling applied at the absorber 15 and/or the condenser 12 is the heating load.
Referring to Figure 2, the fire-tube absorption power unit of this invention comprises a vertically oriented

"combustion chamber" center columnar pipe member 31 having at its lower end a base plate 32 with a coaxial aperture through which a source of heat 33, typically a pulse combustor, protrudes. Coaxially surrounding the center columnar pipe member 31 is a second columnar pipe member

34 connected to the outer surface of the center columnar pipe member 31 by an upper end outwardly extending, radially positioned, closure plate 35 and similar lower end closure plate 36, thereby creating a first annular desorber chamber 37.
The various parts comprising this invention are substantially coaxially arranged, and parts termed "inner" are closer in proximity to the central axis.
The washer-like upper end closure plate 35 has an aperture for the passage of a refrigerant-absorbant solution 21 through conduit 20 from the recuperator 17. A bend 38 or other means in the end of conduit 20 causes the refrigerant-absorbant 21 to be dispersed onto the outer surface 39 of the center columnar pipe member 31. The

O lower end closure plate 36 is provided with a partition 4 which separates the bottom of annular chamber 37 into a inner reservoir 41 and an outer reservoir 42.
A third columnar pipe member 44, is attache substantially coaxially surrounding the second columna pipe member 34, by another upper end outwardly extending, radially positioned closure plate 45 and similar lower en closure plate 46, creating a second annular desorber chamber 47. The upper end closure plate 45 has a aperture through which passes a conduit 48 that connects chamber 47 with the inner reservoir 41 of chamber 37. Chamber pressure differences, in some cases enhanced by a pump 43 , raise the partially strengthened ref igerant-absorbant solution in conduit 48. A bend 49 or other means in the upper end of conduit 48 inside chamber 47 causes the partially strengthened refrigerant-absorbant solution from inner reservoir 41 to be dispersed onto the outer surface 50 of the second pipe member 34.
The lower end closure plate 46 of chamber 47 is likewise divided into an inner annular reservoir 51 and outer annular reservoir 52 by a partition 53. The conduit 18 connects inner reserv.oir 51 with the recuperator 17. Outer reservoir 42 of chamber 37 and outer reservoir 52 of chamber 47 are interconnected by pressure let down means

94 and conduit 22, and then are connected to expansion valve 14 by the conduit 92.
The outside surface of the third columnar pipe member 44 may be provided with a plurality of radial surface extending members such as fins 55.
Attached to the surface 39 of the central columnar pipe member 31 within chamber 37 are generally radially positioned, outwardly and upwardly projecting, surface extending members that may have slits essentially forming spines 56. Likewise, within chamber 47 on the surface 5 of the second columnar pipe member are generally radiall positioned outwardly and upwardly projecting surfac extending members or spines 56.
in the preferred embodiment shown, these surfac extending members 56 are attached near the top of chamber 37 and 47 and are wrapped spirally around the central an second columnar pipe members, respectively, in helica progression down to close proximity of the partitions 40 53. In another construction the fins could be shaved fro the pipe wall itself.
In a typical practice of this invention, the flame o a pulse combustor burns in the interior of or below th central pipe member 31, heating the pipe to a hig temperature- When refrigerant/absorbant solution 21 fro the recuperator 17 is introduced through conduit 20 int chamber 37 and onto surface 39, the water component of th solution 21 is desorbed and separates, becoming a vapo which then condenses on the lower temperature surface o the second pipe member 34. The surface extending member

56 serve to expand the heated surface area promotin exceptionally effective vaporization of the water-refrigerant from a thin film condition.
The solution 21 becomes weaker in refrigerant as i progresses downward along the surface 39 and the spines 5 until it collects in the reservoir 41. The strengthene solution is pumped through the conduit 48, through th inlet 49, onto the surface 50 where it flows downward an over additional spines 56. Desorption takes place an water vapor is driven off leaving the now furthe strengthened collection of solution in the reservoir 51 The now strong solution of water and lithium bromide i conveyed through conduit 18, through the recuperator 17 and line 19, to the absorber 15.

During the desorption processes that are taking plac in chambers 37 and 47, as just previously described condensation simultaneously takes place on the inner wall of the second pipe 34 and of the third pipe 44 since thes walls are cooler than the opposite walls and spines wher desorption is taking place. The source of cooling effec is the outer wall of the third pipe 44 with the surfac extending fins 55. Ambient air, or in some circumstance a liquid coolant (such as water) in a jacket (not shown) is passed adjacent to and in contact with the fins 55 an the wall, extracting heat progressively outwardly from th center of the power unit 30.
As condensation takes place, the water flows down th outer walls of chambers 37 and 47 and collects in th outer reservoirs 42 and 52, respectively, from whence i is carried via the conduits 22 and 92 to the expansio valve 1 .
In a typical illustrative power unit which could be constructed and operated in an absorption heat exchange system to provide three-quarter ton refrigeration capacity, features would be as follows:
Center pipe - 3/4" Schedule 40 (.675"OD - .493
Second pipe - 1 1/4" Schedule 40
(1.66"OD - 1.38"ID)
Third Pipe - 2 1/2" Tube/14 gauge
(2.5"OD - 2.334" ID)
Length of Pipes between enclosure members - 5.5*
Into this power unit 30 a lithium bromide/water weak solution pair having a concentration of 58 1/2% lithium bromide is introduced to the outer surface 39 of the center pipe 31 at a temperature of about 312°F. This weak

O P solution flowing down over the surface extending members

56 exits from the chamber 37 through the reservoir 41 at the bottom, partially strengthened to a concentration of 60 1/2% lithium bromide at a temperature of about 332°F. Water condensate gathers on the inner wall of the second pipe 34 and exits from the chamber 37 through the reservoir 42 at the bottom via the conduit 22 at a temperature of about 226 °F. The partially strengthened lithium bromide solution is carried via the conduit 48 to the outer wall 50 of the second pipe 34 at a temperature of about 194°F (the concentration remaining at 60 1/2% lithium bromide) after passing through the recuperator 17. After coursing down over the surface extending members 56, the strong solution exits from the chamber 47 through the reservoir 51 via the conduit 18 at the bottom at a temperature of about 202 βF and a concentration of 62.1% lithium bromide. At this point, it is a strong solution fully desorbed. Condensate collects on the inner wall of the third pipe 44 at a temperature of about 110 °F and exits from the chamber 47 through the reservoir 52 at the bottom via the conduit 92. Cooling water is circulated around the outside of the third pipe 44 including the cooling fins 55 at a temperature of about 85°F.
The concentration of the solution leaving the chamber 47 has increased from 58 1/2% lithium bromide to 62.1% lithium bromide in the two-stage unit shown in Figures 2 and 3. This is considered exceptionally good in an absorption unit of this size and capacity.
It will be seen that the enclosed coaxial configuration of the power unit of this invention is especially efficient and effective in the conservation of space and energy. The heat is generated in a confined space where its only possible progression is outward into the structure where it is used to advantage (other than the exhaust through the top which is a loss in al combustion systems) . Conversely the maximum areas fo cooling effect is obtained through the encirclement of th unit of the outer pipe 44 and the fins 55.
The apparatus of this invention is shown with th central axis of the various primary pipes, chambers, an chamber walls in the vertical position. It is believe that the apparatus and system will operate mos effectively in this substantially vertical position However, it is to be understood that the system ma operate in varying lesser degrees of proficiency as th central axis is inclined to the vertical. At som position of inclination, disparity between desorption an condensation on the lower side, and the desorption an condensation on the upper side will so reduce thes effects as to reduce operative effectiveness of th apparatus. Determination of such inclination would be matter of routine experimentation by those skilled in th art, and* it is intended that this invention shal encompass and apply to apparatus systems that are incline to the vertical to the degree that is acceptable to th user.
The configuration using columnar pipes and annular chambers is simple in construction and easily manufacture from commonly available and manufactured materials such a steel pipe with welded joints. The spiral spinned surfac extenders 56 are particularly effective in utilization of the space in the annular chambers 37 and 47.
Because of the unique coaxial configuration with the surface extender, the vapor transport distance between evaporation surfaces on the extenders and the condensation surface on the outer walls of the chambers is uniformly very short. This increases the thermal efficiency of apparatus of this type.

Because of the configuration, exceptionally high heat input typically can be provided in the form of pulse co bustors 33. By this means surprisingly high temperatures may be generated at the center of the power unit which can be effectively handled by the cooling pe iphery.
Also because of the configuration and its heat transfer effectiveness, problems of hot spots are avoided or minimized. In devices 'of this kind, it is not uncommon for boiling to take place in the desorption process when high heat transfer rates are attempted. When boiling takes place with lithium bromide, and other typical solutions, agitation and temperature differences occur across the heat exchange surface. These "hot spots" curtail the overall effectiveness as well as producing highly corrosive atmospheres which are detrimental to the materials from which the heat exchangers are made. Also the hot spots can lead to solution crystalization which blocks the passages and stops the operation of the device. in the apparatus of this invention hot spots are avoided since the point of highest heat is approached progressively by the solution pair as it progresses down the spined wall of the inner surfaces of the chambers.
It will be seen that the apparatus of this invention combines generators and condensers of a multi-stage absorption refrigeration system into one "power unit" in which each heat transfer wall serves as a very effective component of the other .
A typical preferred embodiment of the invention shown and described herein is a two-stage unit. Using the concepts of this invention, additional stages can be coaxially added between the inner pipe 31 and the outer pipe 44. Each additional stage provides an opportunity to further increase the effectiveness of the system by increasing the separation between the solution and t refrigerant in the high pressure side of the system.
Although a preferred embodiment of the invention been herein described, it will be understood that vario changes and modifications in the illustrated and describ structure can be effected without departing from the bas principles that underly the invention. Changes a modifications of this type are therefore deemed to circumscribed by the spirit and scope of the inventio except as the same may be necessarily modified by t appended claims or reasonable equivalents thereof.