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Large-scale flow structure and energy separation in a Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube with particle image velocimetry measurement: an experimental study

Abstract

The flow structure of the vortex tube is considered to be the key to understanding the energy separation mechanism, and the unsteady vortex breakdown and precessing vortex core determine the characteristics and behaviour of the flow structure. Thus, transparent vortex tubes with a diameter of 30 mm were designed for main tube visualization, and two-dimensional (2-D) particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurement was adopted to investigate the instantaneous and time-averaged flow field on the meridian plane. The distributions of the axial velocity, radial velocity, vorticity, and, especially, the reverse flow boundaries were obtained to understand the flow structure within vortex tubes. Various operating conditions with different cold mass fractions (0.1–0.9), tube lengths (360, 600, and 900 mm), and inlet pressures (0.1 and 0.2 bar) were studied to reveal the effects of the reverse flow boundary on the energy separation performance. The large-scale flow structure of the precessing vortex core was found to be located at the reverse flow boundary, and the vortex core precession determines the mass transfer processes between the inner and outer layers. In addition, the axial velocity fields and the distributions of the reverse flow boundary captured by the 2-D PIV agree with our earlier results from 2-D laser Doppler velocimetry to a great extent, confirming the feasibility of these two laser nonintrusive measurement methods and the streamline results from our earlier LES study.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51876020), Nature Science Foundation of Liaoning Province (No.2020-BS-065), and Basic Science Research Fund in Dalian University of Technology (No. DUT22RC(3)042). We give our sincere thanks for the help from Beiting Measurement Technique Co. ltd and ILA GmbH for the PIV measurement.

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Correspondence to Xiangji Guo.

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Shi, Z., Guo, X., Zhang, B. et al. Large-scale flow structure and energy separation in a Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube with particle image velocimetry measurement: an experimental study. J Vis (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12650-022-00873-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12650-022-00873-4

Keywords

  • Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube
  • Precessing vortex core
  • Energy separation
  • PIV
  • Reverse flow boundary