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Numerical Simulations of Cryogenic Hydrogen Cooling in Vortex Tubes with Smooth Transitions


Improving efficiency of hydrogen cooling in cryogenic conditions is important for the wider applications of hydrogen energy systems. The approach investigated in this study is based on a Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube (RHVT) that generates temperature separation in a working fluid. The simplicity of RHVT is also a valuable characteristic for cryogenic systems. In the present work, novel shapes of RHVT are computationally investigated with the goal to raise efficiency of the cooling process. Specifically, a smooth transition is arranged between a vortex chamber, where compressed gas is injected, and the main tube with two exit ports at the tube ends. Flow simulations have been carried out using STAR-CCM+ software with the real-gas Redlich-Kwong model for hydrogen at temperatures near 70 K. It is determined that a vortex tube with a smooth transition of moderate size manifests about 7% improvement of the cooling efficiency when compared vortex tubes that use traditional vortex chambers with stepped transitions and a no-chamber setup with direct gas injection.

Funding source: US Department of Energy
Countries: United States

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