Refrigerator
Refrigerator

Vapor-compression refrigeration

Vapor-compression refrigeration or vapor-compression refrigeration system (VCRS), in which the refrigerant undergoes phase changes, is one of the many refrigeration cycles and is the most widely used method for air-conditioning of buildings and automobiles. It is also used in domestic and commercial refrigerators, large-scale warehouses for chilled or frozen storage of foods and meats, refrigerated trucks and railroad cars, and a host of other commercial and industrial services. Oil refineries, petrochemical and chemical processing plants, and natural gas processing plants are among the many types of industrial plants that often utilize large vapor-compression refrigeration systems.
The vapor-compression uses a circulating liquid refrigerant as the medium which absorbs and removes heat from the space to be cooled and subsequently rejects that heat elsewhere. Figure 1 depicts a typical, single-stage vapor-compression system. All such systems have four components: a compressor, a condenser, a thermal expansion valve (also called a throttle valve or metering device), and an evaporator. Circulating refrigerant enters the compressor in the thermodynamic state known as a saturated vapor and is compressed to a higher pressure, resulting in a higher temperature as well. The hot, compressed vapor is then in the thermodynamic state known as a superheated vapor and it is at a temperature and pressure at which it can be condensed with either cooling water or cooling air flowing across the coil or tubes. This is where the circulating refrigerant rejects heat from the system and the rejected heat is carried away by either the water or the air (whichever may be the case).
The cold mixture is then routed through the coil or tubes in the evaporator. A fan circulates the warm air in the enclosed space across the coil or tubes carrying the cold refrigerant liquid and vapor mixture. That warm air evaporates the liquid part of the cold refrigerant mixture. At the same time, the circulating air is cooled and thus lowers the temperature of the enclosed space to the desired temperature. The evaporator is where the circulating refrigerant absorbs and removes heat which is subsequently rejected in the condenser and transferred elsewhere by the water or air used in the condenser.
Unfortunately, chlorine- and fluorine-bearing refrigerants reach the upper atmosphere when they escape. In the stratosphere, CFCs break up due to UV radiation, releasing their chlorine free radicals. These chlorine free radicals act as catalysts in the breakdown of ozone through chain reactions. One CFC molecule can cause thousands of ozone molecules to break down. This causes severe damage to the ozone layer that shields the Earth's surface from the Sun's strong UV radiation, and has been shown to lead to increased rates of skin cancer. The chlorine will remain active as a catalyst until and unless it binds with another particle, forming a stable molecule. CFC refrigerants in common but receding usage include R-11 and R-12.
Between points 5 and 1, the cold and partially vaporized refrigerant travels through the coil or tubes in the evaporator where it is totally vaporized by the warm air (from the space being refrigerated) that a fan circulates across the coil or tubes in the evaporator. The evaporator operates at essentially constant pressure and boils off all available liquid there after adding 4Ц8 kelvins of superheat to the refrigerant as a safeguard for the compressor as it cannot pump liquid. The resulting refrigerant vapor returns to the compressor inlet at point 1 to complete the thermodynamic cycle.