Formation, distribution, and movement of oil droplets in the compressor plenum

Jiu Xu, Pega Hrnjak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oil is important to compressors, but it brings some side effects on the performance of refrigeration systems. Discharge valve or orifice in the compressor plenum is the gateway for the oil to leave the compressor and circulate in the system. The space of the compressor plenum has the potential to separate the oil mist from the refrigerant so that oil circulation ratio (OCR) is reduced. In this study, the formation, distribution, and movement of oil droplets in the plenum are investigated through visualization and CFD simulation. Videos of oil atomization are captured by the high-speed camera to describe how oil mist is formed. The distribution of droplet size and velocity is quantified by video processing techniques. Discrete phase model gives the numerical approach to study the oil droplet movement inside the compressor plenum. The numerical simulation is verified by comparing visualization results with simulation results. The oil flow phenomenon and its quantification provide important information for the design of separation structure incorporated in the compressor. Also, a set of tools are developed and verified to study the oil droplets behavior in different types of compressor plenums.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-194
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Refrigeration
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • CFD
  • Compressor
  • Droplet
  • Oil
  • Plenum
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering


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