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Refrigerant line sizing Part II: suction and discharge lines

This second part describes the design procedure of the suction and discharge lines according to what
suggested by ASHRAE Handbook (2006). Suction and discharge lines are more critical than liquid ones from
a design and construction standpoint. Besides, suction lines are even more critical than discharge ones.
Refrigerant lines should be sized to provide a minimum pressure drop at full load, return oil from the
evaporator to the compressor under minimum load conditions, and prevent oil draining from an active
evaporator into an idle one. As outlined in Part I, the pressure drop in the suction line reduces the systems
capacity because2.4it forces the compressor to operate at a lower suction
pressureHandbookRefrigeration
to maintain a desired (SI )
2006 ASHRAE
evaporating temperature in the evaporator. The suction and discharge lines are normally sized to have a
in the vessel has a very low (or zero) velocity, the velocity V in the
The whole liquid line need not be as large as the leaving connectotal pressure drop
the
equivalent
of about
change
saturation
Forless.a If the
liquidno
linegreater
(usually atthan
the vena
contracta)
is V 2 = 2gh,
where h a
is 1 Ktion.
After theinvena
contracta, thetemperature.
velocity is about 40%
the liquid height in the vessel. Gas pressure does not add to the
line continues down from the receiver, the value of h increases. For
given refrigerantvelocity
mass unless
flowgas
rate
and a temperature drop per unit of
length, discharge lines are smaller than
is flowing in the same direction. As a result, both
a 700 kW capacity with R-22, the line from the bottom of the
gas andthe
liquidvapour
flow through
the line,islimiting
the rate
liquidsaturation
flow.
receiver
should be aboutdrop
79 mm.for
Afteraagiven
drop of 1300
mm, a reducsuctionones because
density
higher
andofthe
temperature
pressure
If this factor is not considered, excess operating charges in receivers
tion to 54 mm is satisf actory.
and flooding of the
shell-and-tube
condensersdrop
may result.
drop is smaller. Therefore,
temperature
per unit of lengthSuction
for suction
lines lines
is greater
of and
Lines. Suction
are more than
critical that
than liquid
No specific data are available to precisely size a line leaving a
discharge lines from a design and construction standpoint. Refrigdischarge ones. The
tables
suggested
by ASHRAE
Handbook
forlines
halocarbon
refrigerants
based
on drop
vessel.
If the height
of liquid above
the vena contracta
produces (2006)
the
erant
should be sized
to (1) provide aare
minimum
pressure
desired velocity, liquid leaves the vessel at the expected rate. Thus,
at full load, (2) return oil from the evaporator to the compressor
0.02 K/m for the
lines
and
0.04
K/mabove
forthethe
lines. In the case of ammonia the
if thedischarge
level in the vessel
falls to
one pipe
diameter
bottomsuction
under minimum load conditions, and (3) prevent oil from draining
of the vessel from which the liquid line leaves, the capacity of copfrom
an
active evaporator
an idle
one. Areport
pressure drop
temperature drop
per unit of length is usually taken as half of the previous
values.intoThe
tables
thein the
per lines for R-22 at 6.4 g/s per kilowatt of refrigeration is approxsuction line reduces a systems capacity because it forces the comimately as diameter
follows:
pressoras
to operate
at a lowerofsuction
maintain a desired
recommended nominal
for given refrigerant and application
a function
the pressure
systemto capacity.
evaporating temperature in the coil. The suction line is normally
OD, mm
kW
The data listed in tables refer to a refrigerating system which
at 40
condensation
sized operates
to have a pressure
dropC
fromoffriction
no greater than the
28
49
equivalent of about a 1 K change in saturation temperature. See
temperature without subcooling,35but they can 88be applied up to 5Tables
K of3 subcooling
any
to 15 for suctionwithout
line sizing introducing
information.
42
140
At
suction
temperatures
lower
than
5C,
the
pressure
drop
54
280
appreciable error.
equivalent to a given temperature change decreases. For example,
67
79
105

460
690
1440

at 40C suction with R-22, the pressure drop equivalent to a 1 K

in saturation
temperature(2006)
is about for
4.9 kPa.
Therefore,
The next figures report two examples of the tables as proposed change
by ASHRAE
Handbook
copper
tubes; similar tables are proposed for steel lines.
Table 5 Suction, Discharge, and Liquid Line Capacities in Kilowatts for Refrigerant 134a (Single- or High-Stage Applications)
Suction Lines (Dt = 0.04 K/m)
10

Nominal
Line OD,
mm

318

368

425

12
15
18
22
28
35
42
54
67
79
105

0.62
1.18
2.06
3.64
7.19
13.20
21.90
43.60
77.70
120.00
257.00

0.76
1.45
2.52
4.45
8.80
16.10
26.80
53.20
94.60
147.00
313.00

0.92
1.76
3.60
5.40
10.70
19.50
32.40
64.40
115.00
177.00
379.00

Liquid Lines

Discharge Lines
(Dt = 0.02 K/m, Dp = 538 Pa/m)

Saturated Suction Temperature, C


5

10

487

555

Saturated Suction
Temperature, C

Corresponding Dp, Pa/m

See note a

10

10

Velocity =
0.5 m/s

Dt = 0.02 K/m
Dp = 538 Pa/m

1.69
3.23
5.61
9.87
19.50
35.60
59.00
117.00
208.00
321.00
686.00

1.77
3.37
5.85
10.30
20.30
37.20
61.60
122.00
217.00
335.00
715.00

1.84
3.51
6.09
10.70
21.10
38.70
64.10
127.00
226.00
349.00
744.00

6.51
10.60
16.00
24.50
41.00
64.90
95.20
160.00
248.00
346.00
618.00

8.50
16.30
28.40
50.10
99.50
183.00
304.00
605.00
1080.00
1670.00
3580.00

TYPE L COPPER LI NE
1.11
2.12
3.69
6.50
12.80
23.50
39.00
77.30
138.00
213.00
454.00

1.33
2.54
4.42
7.77
15.30
28.10
46.50
92.20
164.00
253.00
541.00
STEEL LI NE

10 Discharge,
0.87
1.06
1.27
1.52
2.28 or High-Stage
2.38
2.47
9.81
Figure 1: Suction,
and Liquid
Line Capacities
in Kilowatts
for 1.80
R134a (SingleApplications)
15
20
25
32
40
50
65
80
100

1.62
3.41
6.45
13.30
20.00
38.60
61.50
109.00
222.00

1.96
4.13
7.81
16.10
24.20
46.70
74.30
131.00
268.00

2.36
4.97
9.37
19.40
29.10
56.00
89.30
158.00
322.00

2.81
5.93
11.20
23.10
34.60
66.80
106.00
288.00
383.00

3.34
7.02
13.30
27.40
41.00
79.10
126.00
223.00
454.00

Notes:
1. Table capacities are in kilowatts of refrigeration.
Dp = pressure drop per equivalent line length, Pa/m
Dt = corresponding change in sa turation temperature, K/m
2. Line capacity for other saturation temperatures Dt and equivalent lengths Le
Table L e Actual Dt
Line capacity = Table capacity ----------------------- -----------------------
Actual L e Table Dt
3. Saturation temperature Dt for other capacities and equivalent lengths Le
Actual L e
Actual capacity 1.8
Dt = Table Dt ----------------------- -------------------------------------
Table L e Table capacity
0.55

a Sizing

is recommended where any gas generated in receiver must return up condensate line to condenser without restricting condensate flow. Water-cooled condensers, where receiver ambient temperature may be higher than refrigerant condensing temperature, fall into this category.

4.22
8.88
16.70
34.60
51.90
100.00
159.00
281.00
573.00

4.40
9.26
17.50
36.10
54.10
104.00
166.00
294.00
598.00

4.58
9.64
18.20
37.50
56.30
108.00
173.00
306.00
622.00

15.60
27.40
44.40
76.90
105.00
173.00
246.00
380.00
655.00

12.30
22.80
48.20
91.00
188.00
283.00
546.00
871.00
1540.00
3140.00

4. Values based on 40C condensing temperature. Multiply table capacities


by the following factors for other condensing temperatures.
Condensing
Temperature, C
20
30
40
50

Suction
Line
1.239
1.120
1.0
0.888

Discharge
Line
0.682
0.856
1.0
1.110

pressure drop Dp is conservative; if subcooling is substantial or line


is short, a smaller size line may be used. Applications with very little
subcooling or very long lines may require a larger line.

b Line

Table 8 Suction, Discharge, and Liquid Line Capacities in Kilowatts for Refrigerant 410a (Single- or High-Stage Applications)
Line Size
Type L
Copper,
OD,
mm
12
15
18
22
28
35
42
54
67
79
105
130
156
206
257
Steel
mm SCH
Figure
10 80 2:
15 80
20 80
25 80
32 80
40 80
50 40
65 40
80 40
100 40
125 40
150 40
200 40
250 40
300 IDb
350 30
400 30

Discharge Lines (Dt = 0.02 K/m, Dp = 74.90)

Suction Lines (Dt = 0.04 K/m)


50
218.6
0.32
0.61
1.06
1.87
3.72
6.84
11.39
22.70
40.48
62.89
134.69
240.18
390.21
800.39
1427.49

Saturated Suction Temperature, C


40
30
20
5
Corresponding Dp, Pa/m
317.2
443.3
599.1
894.2
0.52
0.80
1.20
2.05
0.99
1.54
2.29
3.90
1.72
2.68
3.98
6.76
3.04
4.72
7.00
11.89
6.03
9.32
13.82
23.43
11.07
17.11
25.33
42.82
18.39
28.38
42.00
70.89
36.61
56.35
83.26
140.29
65.21
100.35
147.94
249.16
101.10
155.22
229.02
384.65
216.27
331.96
488.64
820.20
384.82
590.29
866.21
1452.34
625.92
957.07
1405.29
2352.81
1280.57
1956.28
2868.65
4796.70
2276.75
3480.75
5095.42
8506.22

5
1137.6
2.83
5.37
9.30
16.32
32.11
58.75
97.02
191.84
340.33
525.59
1119.32
1978.69
3206.57
6532.82
11 575.35

50
1172.1
3.47
6.60
11.43
20.04
39.44
72.05
119.01
235.35
417.58
643.78
1371.21
2424.14
3928.86
7995.81
14 185.59

Saturated Suction Temperature, C


40
30
20
5
Corresponding Dp, Pa/m
1172.1
1172.1
1172.1
1172.1
3.60
3.73
3.84
4.00
6.85
7.09
7.31
7.60
11.87
12.29
12.67
13.16
20.81
21.54
22.20
23.08
40.95
42.39
43.70
45.42
74.82
77.46
79.84
82.98
123.57
127.93
131.87
137.06
244.38
253.00
260.80
271.06
433.60
448.89
462.73
480.93
668.47
692.05
713.37
741.44
1423.81
1474.02
1519.45
1579.22
2517.13
2605.89
2686.20
2791.88
4079.57
4223.44
4353.60
4524.87
8302.53
8595.32
8860.22
9208.77
14 729.76 15 249.20 15 719.17 16 337.55

Liquid Lines (40C)


See note a
5
1172.1
4.07
7.75
13.42
23.53
46.31
84.62
139.76
276.39
490.40
756.03
1610.30
2846.83
4613.92
9390.02
16 659.10

Suction,
Discharge,
and
Line Capacities
in2.44
Kilowatts
for R410A
Applications).
0.31
0.49
0.74 Liquid1.08
1.80
2.98
3.10 (Single3.21or High-Stage
3.31
3.44
3.50
0.61
1.39
2.72
5.86
8.94
20.81
33.22
58.79
119.78
216.38
350.32
717.23
1297.30
2075.09
2686.45
3870.92

0.97
2.19
4.30
9.24
14.09
32.75
52.18
92.36
188.24
339.76
549.37
1125.10
2035.01
3255.45
4214.83
6064.31

1.47
3.32
6.50
13.95
21.28
49.39
78.69
139.17
283.69
511.52
827.18
1692.00
3060.66
4896.39
6329.87
9135.88

2.14
4.82
9.45
20.26
30.91
71.75
114.11
201.84
411.01
742.06
1200.12
2451.89
4435.35
7085.49
9173.88
13 220.36

3.54
7.98
15.63
33.47
50.97
118.34
188.61
332.58
678.11
1221.40
1975.34
4041.21
7310.97
11 679.95
15 122.98
21 760.24

4.80
10.81
21.16
45.30
68.99
160.19
254.80
450.29
916.08
1654.16
2672.01
5459.36
9876.55
15 802.42
20 429.97
29 442.67

5.87
13.21
25.86
55.37
84.33
195.83
311.49
550.47
1121.21
2022.16
3266.45
6673.89
12 073.76
19 317.94
24 974.96
35 992.70

6.09
13.72
26.85
57.50
87.57
203.34
323.43
571.59
1164.22
2099.73
3391.75
6929.91
12 536.92
20 059.00
25 933.02
37 373.41

6.31
14.20
27.80
59.53
90.66
210.51
334.84
591.74
1205.28
2173.77
3511.36
7174.29
12 979.03
20 766.37
26 847.53
38 691.36

6.50
14.64
28.66
61.36
93.45
217.00
345.16
609.98
1242.42
2240.77
3619.58
7395.39
13 379.03
21 406.37
27 674.95
39 883.80

6.76
15.22
29.79
63.77
97.13
225.54
358.74
633.98
1291.30
2328.92
3761.97
7686.32
13 905.35
22 248.47
28 763.66
41 452.79

6.89
15.52
30.37
65.03
99.04
229.98
365.80
646.46
1316.72
2374.75
3836.01
7837.60
14 179.04
22 686.37
29 329.79
42 268.67

Velocity =
0.5 m/s
6.2
10.1
15.4
23.5
39.3
62.2
91.3
153.7
238.2
332.2
592.9
919.8
1332.3
2305.4
3584.6

Dt = 2 K/m Dt = 5 K
Drop
Drop
Dp = 1179 Dp = 293
14.3
23.
27.2
44.
47.3
77.
83.0
135.
163.7
266.
299.6
486.
495.7
804.
982.0
1590.
1746.4
2816.
2695.2
4350.
5744.4
9249.
10 188.7
16 386.
16 502.3
26 500.
33 708.0
53 996.
59 763.6
95 683.

6.9
11.5
21.3
35.5
63.2
87.1
165.4
235.8
364.2
627.6
985.4
1424.2
2466.2
3887.3
5575.3
6797.4
9004.3

12.7
25.0
56.2
110.2
235.9
359.8
835.4
1328.6
2347.8
4787.0
8622.2
13 944.5
28 528.0
51 535.6
82 451.9
106 757.2
153 611.4

For different condensation temperature the table capacities must be multiplied by the correction factors
listed, which depend on the selected refrigerant. The following values of correction factors are relative to
the tables reported in Figures 1 and 2.

a Sizing

shown is recommended where any gas generated


in receiver must return up condensate line to condenser
without restricting condensate flow. Water-cooled condensers, where receiver ambient temperature may be
higher than refrigerant condensing temperature, fall into
this category.
b Pipe inside diameter is same as nominal pipe size.

20.
39.
89.
174.
373.
568.
1320.
2101.
3713.
7562.
13 639.
22 032.
45 016.
81 440.
130 304.
168 461.
242 779.

Notes:
4. Capacity (kW) based on standard refrigerant cycle of 40C liquid and Cond. Suc1. Table capacities are in kilowatts of refrigeration.
saturated evaporator outlet temperat ure. Liquid capacity (kW) based Temp., tion
Dp = pressure drop per unit equi valent length of line, Pa/m
on 5C evaporator temperature.
C
Line
Dt = corresponding change in saturation temperature, K/m
5. Thermophysical properties and viscosity data based on calculations
20
1.238
2. Line capacity for other saturation temperatures Dt and equivalent lengths Le from NIST REFPROP program Version 6.01.
30
1.122
6. For brazed Type L copper tubing larger than 15 mm OD for discharge
Table L e Actual Dt 0.55
Line capacity = Table capacity ----------------------- -----------------------
40
1.000
or liquid service, see Sa fety Requirements section.
Actual L e Table Dt
7. Values are based on 40C condens ing temperature. Multiply table
50
0.867
3. Saturation temperature Dt for other capacities and equivalent lengths Le
capacities by the following factors for other condensing temperatures.
Actual L e Actual capacity 1.8
Dt = Table Dt ----------------------- -------------------------------------
Table L e Table capacity

The design procedure can be summarized as follows: first of all, for a given cooling capacity and refrigerant,
the previous Tables permit to find out the recommended pipe diameter (for 40 C of condensation
temperature); then the total equivalent length of tube must be estimated, it is the sum of the straight pipe
length and the equivalent length of fittings, which can be obtained from Table similar to that reported in
Figure 3.

as a subcooler; this implies that part of the condenser will be flooded and will operate as a receiver. If a
receiver is used to control the refrigerant charge fluctuation during the operation, this components should
be fed with saturated liquid from the condenser and, then, it should feed the liquid to the subcooler to
achieve the requested subcooling level.
The ASHRAE Handbook (2006) reports different tables to design the liquid lines as a function of the system
capacity, refrigerant and tube material, for fixed temperature change of 0.02 K m-1in the case of liquid line
and for liquid velocity of 0.5 m s-1 for the receiver to condenser connection lines. The next table illustrates
an example of the sizing table for R134a, copper tube; the third column is devoted to the liquid lines, the
other refers to suction and discharge lines.

D
cha
Li
0.
0.
1.
1.

Figure 3: Fitting Losses in Equivalent Metres of Pipe.

Once that the equivalent lengthLe is known, the total temperature drop

can be easily estimated using

the following equation:

where

is the design temperature drop per unit of length, P0 is the cooling capacity and P0,Table is

the cooling capacity listed in the table. If this value is lower than 1 K, the line is sized; otherwise, a little bit
bigger tube should be selected.
The following examples permit to clarify the design procedure. Determine the suction and discharge line
sizes of a 130 kW R410A refrigerating system operating at 5 C suction and 40 C of condensing
temperatures. The suction line consists of Lt=15 m of straight tube with 8 long radius elbows while the
discharge line consists of 15 m with 10 standard elbows. Then, determine the lines sizes if the
condensation temperature becomes 50 C.
Suction From Figure 2, 191.84 kW capacity in 54 mm OD suction line results in a 0.04 K m-1. Thus, from
Figure 3, a 50 mm long radius elbow has a equivalent length of Lf=1.0 m. The total equivalent length can be
easily calculated:
m,
using the previous equation, it is possible to estimate the temperature drop in the suction line:
K (acceptable).
Recompute for the next smaller, 42 mm OD tube, the equivalent length for the elbows becomes Lf=0.8 m
and the total equivalent length Le=21.4 m, then the temperature drop becomes 1.45 K, which is slightly
higher than 1K. Therefore, the 54 mm tube is recommended.

Discharge From Figure 2, 139.76 kW capacity in 42 mm OD suction line results in a 0.02 K m -1; from Figure
3, a 40 mm standard elbow has a equivalent length of Lf=1.2 m. The total equivalent length is Le=27 m. The
temperature drop associated is 0.47 K, which is lower than 1 K.
If the condensation temperature becomes 50 C, the values listed in Figures 1 and 2 must be corrected
using the correction factors listed in the table.
Suction The correction factor is 0.867, thus the 54 mm OD tube, which at 40 C has a capacity of 191.84 kW,
now it has a capacity of:
kW,
This capacity is higher that 130 kW, thus 54 mm can be selected, the temperature drop associated to the
equivalent length of Le=23.0 m is 0.59 K(acceptable).
Discharge The correction factor for discharge lines is 1.117; thus, the previous 139.76 kW associated to 42
mm OD tube becomes 156.11 kW that with an equivalent length of Le=27 m implies a temperature drop of
0.39 K (acceptable).

References
ASHRAE Handbook, Refrigeration, 2006.
Correlated topics:
Refrigerant line sizing Part I: general principles and liquid lines.
Refrigerant line sizing Part III: oil management in refrigerant lines.
How to design a capillary tube: the simplest and most reliable throttling device.

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