The dynamics of the confined flow inside the piston displacement of a Gamma-type Stirling engine operating as a heat pump is experimentally analyzed. The diameter of the piston is 30 mm; 2 mm smaller than the internal diameter of the cold cylinder. As the piston performs its reciprocating motion, the gas leaks around the gap between the piston and the cylinder wall, generating a continuous pulsating motion. In the first part of the cycle air is introduced and compressed by the piston motion, and then the second part of the cycle starts by expanding the air and ejecting it from the assembly chamber. Experimental observations were carried out at frequencies in the range 100 to 300 rpm. The flow was visualized using a vertical laser beam plane oriented in the same axial direction of the piston’s motion. The particles used as trackers are water drops condensed on carbon dioxide microcrystals. Images were taken with a high speed video camera with a frame rate of 1000 fps. PIV techniques were implemented to identify the flow main structures. For analysis purposes, fixed phase averages of the velocity fields are required, due to the turbulent regime observed in this phenomena and its oscillatory nature. Based on experimental measurements it can be demonstrated that the average flow involved is not axisymmetric, although very interestingly, specific inlet and exit regions of the piston-cylinder gap were identified.
Papers presented to the 12th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Costa de Sol, Spain on 11-13 July 2016.