Effect of the header pressure drop induced flow maldistribution on the microchannel evaporator performance

Hanfei Tuo, Predrag Stojan Hrnjak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an experimental and numerical investigation of the flow maldistribution caused by the pressure drop in headers and its impact on the performance of a microchannel evaporator with horizontal headers and vertically oriented tubes. Experimental results show that the flash gas bypass method almost eliminates the quality induced maldistribution. However, refrigerant flow maldistribution caused by the header pressure drop still exists. This is mainly because the pressure drop along the headers results in uneven pressure difference and therefore non-uniform liquid refrigerant mass flow rate across each microchannel tube. A microchannel evaporator model validated by experimental results is employed to quantify header pressure drop induced flow maldistribution. Parametric analysis reveals that such maldistribution impact is significantly reduced by enlarging the outlet header size, increasing heat exchanger aspect ratio, or reducing the microchannel size while other parameters are kept constant. When ratio of outlet header to the total evaporator pressure drop is less than 30%, the cooling capacity reduction is limited below 3%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2176-2186
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Refrigeration
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Air-conditioning system
  • Evaporator
  • Flow distribution
  • Header
  • Microchannel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering


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