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Construction And Working Of Steam Jet Refrigeration System



If water is sprayed into a chamber where a low pressure is maintained, a part of the water will evaporate. The enthalpy of evaporation will cool the remaining water to its saturation temperature at the pressure in the chamber. Obviously lower temperature will require lower pressure. Water freezes at 0 deg.C hence temperature lower than 4 C cannot be obtained with water. In this system, high velocity steam is used to entrain the evaporating water vapour. High-pressure motive steam passes through either convergent or convergent divergent nozzle where it acquires either sonic or supersonic velocity and low pressure of the
order of 0.009 kPa corresponding to an evaporator temperature of 4 deg C. The high momentum of motive steam entrains or carries along with it the water vapour evaporating from the flash chamber. Because of its high velocity it moves the vapours against the pressure gradient up to the condenser where the pressure is 5.6-7.4 kPa corresponding to condenser temperature of 35-45 deg.The motive vapour and the evaporated vapour both are condensed and recycled. This system is known as steam jet refrigeration system. Figure shows a schematic of the system. It can be seen that this system requires a good vacuum to be maintained. Sometimes, booster ejector is used for this purpose. This system is driven by low- grade energy that is
process steam in chemical plants or a boiler. 

Steam Jet Refrigeration System
Fig. Steam Jet Refrigeration System


In 1838, the Frenchman Pelletan was granted a patent for the compression of steam by  means of a jet of motive steam. Around 1900, the Englishman Charles Parsons studied the possibility of reduction of pressure by an entrainment effect from a steam jet. However, the credit for constructing the steam jet refrigeration system goes to the French engineer, Maurice Leblanc who developed the system in 1907-08. In this system, ejectors were used to produce  a high velocity steam jet (≈ 1200 m/s). Based on Leblanc’s design the first commercial  system was made by Westinghouse in 1909 in Paris. Even though the efficiency of the steam
jet refrigeration system was low, it was still attractive as water is harmless and the system can run using exhaust steam from a steam engine. From 1910 onwards, stem jet refrigeration systems were used mainly in breweries, chemical factories, warships etc. In 1926, the French engineer Follain improved the machine by introducing multiple stages of vaporization and condensation of the suction steam. Between 1928-1930, there was much interest in this type of systems in USA. In USA they were mainly used for air conditioning of factories, cinema theatres, ships and even railway wagons. Several companies such as Westinghouse, Ingersoll Rand and Carrier started commercial production of these systems from 1930. However, gradually these systems were replaced by more efficient vapour absorption systems using LiBr-water. Still, some east European countries such as Czechoslovakia and Russia manufactured these systems as late as 1960s. The ejector principle can also be used to provide refrigeration using fluids other than water, i.e., refrigerants such as CFC-11, CFC-21,CFC-22, CFC-113, CFC-114 etc. The credit for first developing these closed vapour jet refrigeration systems goes to the Russian engineer, I.S. Badylkes around 1955. Using refrigerants other than water, it is possible to achieve temperatures as low as –100C with a single stage of compression.

The advantages cited for this type of systems are simplicity and robustness, while difficult design and economics are its chief disadvantages.



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