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international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

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Review

A review of linear compressors for refrigeration

Kun Liang *
Department of Engineering and Design, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QT, UK

A R T I C L E I N F O A B S T R A C T

Article history: Linear compressor has no crank mechanism compared with conventional reciprocating com-
Received 4 June 2017 pressor. This allows higher efficiency, oil-free operation, lower cost and smaller size when
Received in revised form 23 August linear compressors are used for vapour compression refrigeration (VCR) system. Typically,
2017 a linear compressor consists of a linear motor (connected to a piston) and suspension springs,
Accepted 23 August 2017 operated at resonant frequency. This paper presents a review of linear compressors for re-
Available online 31 August 2017 frigeration system. Different designs and modelling of linear compressors for both domestic
refrigeration and electronics cooling (miniature VCR system) are discussed. Key character-
Keywords: istics of linear compressor are also described, including motor type, compressor loss, piston
Linear compressor sensing and control, piston drift and resonance. The challenges associated with the linear
Household refrigeration compressors are also discussed to provide a comprehensive review of the technology for
Miniature research and development in future.
Linear motor © 2017 Elsevier Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.
Resonance

Synthèse sur les compresseurs linéaires pour le froid


Mots clés : Compresseur linéaire ; Froid domestique ; Miniature ; Moteur linéaire ; Résonance

temperature range. Eliminating the need for the oil return


1. Introduction reduces constraints on pipe sizing and will lead to a reduc-
tion in pressure drop losses (Bailey et al., 2009). In a high
A linear compressor does not have a crank mechanism to drive efficiency linear machine, the piston operates resonantly in
the piston and is driven directly by a linear motor, which has order to minimise the drive current and ohmic losses. Reso-
a higher electrical efficiency than a traditional rotary induc- nance is determined by the moving mass and by spring
tion motor. Oil-free operation is possible, and this is a significant stiffness, which has at least two components, the mechani-
advantage with respect to the heat transfer performance of the cal springs and the “gas spring” effect of the compression
condenser and the evaporator in a refrigeration system and process: in moving magnet motors the reluctance leads to a
it would allow the use of compact heat exchangers. The absence magnetic spring effect. The potential for this technology to be
of oil widens both the choice of refrigerants and their operating scaled to small physical sizes is better than for conventional

* Department of Engineering and Design, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QT, UK.
E-mail address: kun.liang@sussex.ac.uk
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrefrig.2017.08.015
0140-7007/© 2017 Elsevier Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.
254 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

investigations have been recently undertaken to compare the


Nomenclature performances of linear compressors and the traditional crank-
drive compressors. Bradshaw et al. (2012) utilized the
BLDC Brushless direct current
compressor model in Bradshaw et al. (2011) to compare the
CFD Computational fluid dynamics
energy recovery characteristics of a linear compressor to those
COP Coefficient of performance
of a crank-drive reciprocating compressor and demonstrated
D Piston diameter (mm)
that the linear compressor could operate more efficiently over
EER Energy efficiency ratio
a wider range of dead (clearance) volumes than the crank-
f Frequency (Hz)
drive compressor. Ku et al. (2010) measured the performances
FEA Finite element analysis
of a moving magnet linear compressor and a brushless direct-
k Stiffness (N mm−1)
m Mass (g) current (BLDC) reciprocating compressor, and concluded that
P Pressure (bar) the linear compressor had a power consumption reduction of
S Stroke (mm) about 10% as compared with the BLDC reciprocating
VCR Vapour compression refrigeration compressor.
Park et al. (2002) experimentally compared the losses of a
linear motor (of Sunpower design) with a rotary induction
compressors (Bradshaw, 2012). The refrigeration capacity for motor. The linear compressor achieved a 20–30% higher effi-
system using linear compressors can be modulated by simply ciency than the reciprocating compressor with a rotary
changing the excitation voltage. induction motor. Lamantia et al. (2002) carried out a numeri-
Linear compressors, with clearance seals and flexure bear- cal and experimental analysis of a linear compressor, and
ings, have been used for many years to power Stirling cycle their results show that the linear compressor has a higher
cryocoolers, and the same technology, with the addition of efficiency than the traditional crank-drive reciprocating com-
valves, can be used for vapour compression refrigeration (VCR) pressor due to lower friction losses. Bansal et al. (2011) reviewed
systems, with the potential for using ammonia (Liang, 2014). the advantages of linear compressor technologies over tradi-
A number of linear compressors have been incorporated tional crank-drive reciprocating compressors for domestic
into vapour compression refrigeration units with heat applications and concluded that linear compressors offer higher
exchangers (evaporator and condenser). These units can be do- efficiency and a more promising alternative to control the
mestic refrigeration systems, including fridge/freezer and air refrigeration capacity. Liang et al. (2014) experimentally com-
conditioner. The other VCR application using linear compres- pared the performance of a linear compressor with a
sors is electronics cooling. Oil-free operation of linear commercial crank-drive reciprocating compressor. Results show
compressors enables the use of very compact or micro- that linear compressor has much higher electrical efficiency
channel heat exchangers (Bailey et al., 2011). Miniaturization (motor efficiency) than crank-drive reciprocating compres-
of linear compressor allows small size VCR system for elec- sor, particularly at low load. However, one of the main
tronics cooling. advantages of crank-drive compressors is that the position
From 1950’s onwards, linear compressors have been under of the piston is well defined by the mechanism, and clear-
development, sometimes in parallel with work on “free piston” ance volumes approaching zero can be achieved, as has been
Stirling engines. At an early stage, a linear compressor was in- pointed out by Bailey et al. (2011). The piston movement in a
vestigated by Cadman and Cohen (1969a, 1969b) in 1969. It was linear compressor is dependent on the excitation voltage
observed that the free-piston operation of this device pro- and the piston offset. The piston needs very accurate sensing
duced some peculiar effects such as piston drift, which and control so that it will not collide with the cylinder head
challenged the modelling efforts and limited the practical ap- when small dead volume is required for higher pressure ratio
plication of such devices. Pollak et al. (1979) investigated the operation. The piston drift and control will be discussed in
one-dimensional, non-linear dynamics of the piston and elec- Section 6.
trical systems and confirmed such confounding effects. Since Although linear compressor has advantages over tradi-
then, a number of experimental works and modelling of linear tional compressors stated by both academia and industry, there
compressor have been conducted. A few types of linear com- is lack of comprehensive comparisons between them to quan-
pressor have been marketed to date. This article reviews the tify the benefits of linear compressor. For example, how oil-
modelling, design and control of different linear compres- free improves the heat transfer particularly with compact heat
sors for domestic refrigeration and electronics cooling. Key exchangers is still unknown. Difference of refrigeration per-
characteristics of linear compressor are addressed including formance between linear compressor and equivalent traditional
linear motor design, control, efficiency, miniaturization, reso- compressors has not been measured. Apart from control,
nance, piston drift and piston sensing. Challenges are presented another main challenge of linear compressor is the cost. Linear
and future works are recommended to further extend the linear motor requires more rare earth materials. Different manufac-
compressor technology. turing processes are also required for linear compressor. For
example, when manufacturing oil-free linear compressor, a
clean room is required to allow radial clearance of 10–20 microns
2. Comparison with conventional compressor level between piston and cylinder. This is not required for crank-
driven compressor as contact seal is used. This is the limitation
Linear compressors have many advantages over the conven- of large scale production of oil-free linear compressor up to
tional crank-drive reciprocating compressors. Several date.
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 255

Fig. 1 – Schematic of the linear compressor model showing


key parameters (adapted from Davies et al., 2010).

3. Modelling of linear compressor

Modelling of linear compressor provides prediction of linear


compressor performance and the sensitivity of the VCR system
to the design parameters of the compressor. Davies et al. (2010) Fig. 3 – Compressor piston resonant frequency as a
built a one-dimension model of a linear compressor shown in function of the stroke (x)-to-diameter (D) ratio for three
Fig. 1. The model includes gas leakage across the radial clear- displacement volumes (Bradshaw et al., 2013).
ance, force balance on the piston and energy balance for the
cylinder. However, the mass and heat transfer in the cylinder
is not simulated when the valves open and close. This would decreases with an increase in stroke-to-diameter ratio as shown
lead to non-accurate predictions of mass flow rate and tem- in Fig. 4. In addition, the performance improves with a de-
peratures of suction and discharge. The model is neither capable crease in displacement volume. However, no refrigeration data
of predicting high pressure ratio performance as the gas spring with validation by measurements were reported. Miniaturiza-
will be very nonlinear. tion at higher frequency for electronics cooling is not discussed.
Bradshaw et al. (2011) presented a comprehensive model This is the key aspect when using oil-free linear compressor
of a miniature-scale linear compressor for electronics cooling. for miniature VCR system.
The model consists of a vibration sub-model that is particu- Kim et al. (2009) simulated the dynamics of a linear com-
lar to the operation of a linear compressor as well as other sub- pressor for household refrigeration by coupling the electric and
models for valve flow, leakage past the piston and heat transfer. mechanical parts (Fig. 5). The non-linear gas spring constant
The compressor is split into two control volumes (shown in was simulated at higher pressure ratios (over 10). Fig. 6 shows
Fig. 2). Bradshaw et al. (2013) further studied the sensitivity of that stroke change of 0.02 mm leads to 2% gas spring con-
the compressor model and the resonant frequency. Fig. 3 shows stant (0.1 Hz difference of resonant frequency). Though the
that as the stroke-to-bore ratio increases, the resonant model is validated by the experimental results, there is no sub-
frequency decreases. The overall isentropic efficiency model for gas leakage across the radial clearance seal.

Fig. 2 – Representation of the compression process in a linear compressor (Bradshaw et al., 2011).
256 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

Fig. 6 – Simulation result of relative gas spring constant


according to the change of piston stroke around top dead
centre (TDC) in the linear compressor (Kim et al., 2009).

Fig. 4 – Overall isentropic efficiency as a function of the


stroke-to-diameter ratio for three displacement volumes the flow rate of total refrigerant) and the shell are the most
(Bradshaw et al., 2013). sensitive to the compressor performance.
Oliveira et al. (2015) used CFD (computational fluid dynam-
ics) technique to predict the temperature field of an oil-free
Chen et al. (2007) presented a model of linear compressor. linear compressor including heat transfer in solid compo-
The simulation results show that the stroke is approximately nents and along the gas path in the suction system, internal
a linear function of the input voltage. Lamantia et al. (2002) environment and discharge system. In this work, an empiri-
used MATLAB/Simulink and ADAM to simulate the perfor- cal convective heat transfer coefficient was used to estimate
mance of a linear compressor for household refrigeration. the instantaneous heat exchange between the gas and the cyl-
Results show a peak coefficient of performance (COP) at 49 Hz. inder wall. The actual heat transfer between the gas and the
Liang et al. (2014) improved the compressor model presented cylinder wall is complex due to mass transfer when valves open
by Davies et al. (2010) to infer the cylinder pressure. Kim et al. and close (Fagotti and Prata, 1998). With CFD technique, the
(2011) developed a numerical model of a linear compressor instantaneous heat transfer in the cylinder of crank-drive re-
showing that the cooling capacity was inherently modulated ciprocating compressor has been already investigated (Disconzi
from 55% to 90% over the ambient temperature range without et al., 2012; Tuhovcak et al., 2016). The results should be similar
using stroke controller. Park et al. (2017) performed a thermal to linear compressor though no such work has been con-
analysis of a linear compressor using a heat balance and control ducted so far.
volume. Sensitivity to energy efficiency ratio (EER) analysis of Comprehensive model of linear compressor should include
each part of the linear compressor was also investigated. Fig. 7 sub-models of dynamics, mass and heat transfer, thermody-
shows that the mixing ratio (flow rate of suction refrigerant namics, coupling of electric and mechanical systems, motor
which is transferred to the compression chamber directly to force, pressure drop across valves, piston drift, gas leakage and

Fig. 5 – Simplified model for simulation of the coupled system of the electric part and the mechanical part in the linear
compressor, replacing the thermodynamic part with an equivalent parameter in the governing equation (Kim et al., 2009).
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 257

Fig. 9 – Motor efficiency of Sunpower linear compressor at


Fig. 7 – Sensitivity to energy efficiency ratio (EER) analysis different strokes (Redlich et al., 1996).
of each part of the linear compressor (Park et al., 2017).

The Sunpower type moving magnet linear motor, which has


very nonlinear gas spring at high pressure ratios. Both 1D and
been widely adopted, uses a tubular magnet that is cantile-
3D technique are necessary. None of the models mentioned
vered from the suspension system. The linear motor consisted
above is capable of simulating the linear compressor includ-
of inner and outer pole pieces, a coil and a ring of permanent
ing all necessary sub-models. One challenge is the
magnets which move axially between the pole pieces. The coil
characteristics of linear motor. Most of above studies assumed
is wound circumferentially and is enclosed by the lamina-
either a sinusoidal motor force or a constant motor effi-
tions of the outer pole assembly. High motor efficiency can be
ciency. The actual motor force depends on the electromagnetic
maintained, particularly at low load (as shown in Fig. 9). Unger
design. Section 6.1 describes the different linear motor designs.
(1999). used R600a to measure the linear compressor perfor-
Another concern is the very nonlinear gas spring at higher pres-
mance when integrated into a refrigerator operating at 50 Hz.
sure ratios, which determines the resonant frequency. CFD
The results show that under a freezer condition (-18 °C), the
technique is suggested for future work to study the mass and
COP was 2.5 with a cooling capacity of 40 W, while under a fresh
heat transfer in the cylinder considering the gas leakage across
food condition (4 °C), the COP was 3.0 at 120 W. One comment
the radial clearance seal and valve motions.
that can be made is that the tubular magnet with its radial mag-
netic field is more difficult to magnetise than a bar magnet,
and that the tubular magnet has to be cantilevered from one
4. Linear compressor for domestic end, so is more difficult to mount. The radially magnetised tube
refrigeration can be approximated by a number of unidirectional seg-
ments but the assembly then becomes more complicated.
One company that has been involved in linear compressor tech- The Korean based LG company has licensed Sunpower’s
nologies over a long period is Sunpower. They have developed linear technology, and has been marketing linear compressor
a system using linear gas bearings to support and maintain systems for household refrigerators since 2002 (LG Linear Com-
the alignment of the piston (Redlich et al., 1996; Unger, 1998, pressor, 2017a, 2017b). The configuration of the linear motor
1999; Unger and Van der Walt, 1996; Van der Walt and Unger, is shown in Fig. 10. Despite Sunpower’s early machines being
1992, 1994). They have developed a system using linear gas bear-
ings to support and maintain the alignment of the piston. This
system has been used in both engines and compressors, and
development of these machines is on-going. Unger and Novotny
(2002) introduced a compact moving magnet linear compres-
sor, with a high performance linear motor, as shown in Fig. 8.

Fig. 8 – Sunpower design of linear compressor (Unger and Fig. 10 – The linear motor design in the LG linear
Novotny, 2002). compressor for household refrigerator (Lee et al., 2004).
258 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

(a) (b)
Fig. 11 – Schematic of the LG linear compressor
Fig. 12 – Linear compressor (a) and coil spring assembly (b)
configuration for household refrigeration (Yoo et al., 2010).
for air conditioner (Lee et al., 2004).

oil free, the LG compressors designed for R134a and R600a are appear to be relatively complicated. More patented design of
not oil free and they do not have the gas bearing system. Lee linear compressors can be found in Chang (1998); Duncan and
et al. (2004) presented an iron loss analysis of the linear motor Boyd (2005); Hahn and Barito (2015); Hansen et al. (2007); Schade
(shown in Fig. 10) using FEA (finite element analysis). Lee et al. and Schubert (2008) though there is no reported data of mod-
(2000) presented a linear compressor for household refrigera- elling and measurement so far. Note that linear motors of these
tor using a moving magnet linear motor and coil spring. LG patented linear compressors are similar to the Sunpower design.
stated that their refrigerator using linear compressor (shown A more recent development by Embraco, is an oil-free linear
in Fig. 11) is much more efficient than those equipped with con- compressor (Wisemotion Oil-free Technology) designed for do-
ventional compressors (LG Linear Compressor, 2014). However, mestic refrigeration using R134a and R600a (Embraco Oil-less
no convincing data has been reported. The main concern of Compressor, 2010; Embraco Wisemotion, 2016). A patent pub-
LG linear compressor is a much higher cost. Also, using very lished in 2008 shows a compressor that has significant
stiff coil spring to dominate the resonance and reduce the similarities with the Sunpower design (Lilie, 2008). No pub-
piston drift makes the compressor bulky and not capable of lished data can be found and no product exists in the market
saving space for refrigeration. Neither using oil for lubrica- to date.
tion in the linear compressor is not attractive as heat exchange Bijanzad et al. (2017) built an oil-free solenoid based linear
will not be enhanced nor the choice of refrigerant. The motor compressor. The solenoid driven linear actuator is a moving
efficiency is not reported to be significantly higher than iron type motor, consisting of a stator coil, a stator core and
brushless DC motor (BLDC). an armature. The piston is directly coupled with the arma-
Bradshaw (2012) purchased a commercial LG refrigerator/ ture and slides inside the cylinder of the gas compression
freezer (LGC25776SW) to test its linear compressor, and assembly as shown in Fig. 13a. While the coil is excited with
measured its performance using R134a. The results showed that the current, the piston moves toward the cylinder. When the
a COP of 1.34 was achieved at an evaporator temperature of coil is de-energized, the energy stored in the springs pulls back
-5 °C and a cooling capacity of 150 W while the isentropic ef- the piston to the bottom dead centre. Results show that 85%
ficiency was 65%. Lee et al. (2004) adopted a Sunpower design motor efficiency was achieved at 19 Hz as shown in Fig. 13c.
linear compressor for air conditioning as shown in Fig. 12a and The design appears to be robust but the energy conversion
concluded that a COP of 3.66 was achieved at the ASHRAE-T density is much lower. The ratio of shaft force to moving mass
condition (evaporator temperature of 7.2 °C and condenser tem- is even lower than moving magnet type mentioned above. The
perature of 54.4 °C) using R410A. Since the load of air conditioner benefit of this design is low cost.
(1~6 kW cooling capacity) is several times higher than refrig- Hasegawa et al. (2002) presented a prototype of a linear com-
erator, the quantities of the coil springs (see Fig. 12b) and the pressor with a gas spring provided with a self-compensation
outline dimension of the linear compressor will be much larger mechanism (shown in Fig. 14). The motor design is similar to
because of the higher gas spring stiffness. Efficiency of the linear Sunpower design. This design could potentially secure high re-
compressor with such higher power output may not be very liability even in the case of a large stroke and large spring
attractive. This may be the reason for no such commercial constant, and can be cost effective. The efficiency of the gas
product so far. spring prototype was 84% of that of a conventional model (me-
Developments with linear compressors include moving chanical spring prototype). The concern for the design is that
magnet designs in the Clever Fellows (Q drive) (Yarr and Corey, when operated at high pressure ratios, the mean piston po-
1995) and in the Infinia design (Nasar and Boldea, 1997; Qiu, sition will drift. How to control the piston drift is unknown.
2005). Q drive design has a complex moving magnet design with How gas spring dominates the resonance needs to be further
multiple coil and magnet assemblies. Infinia has a number of investigated. These could be the reasons for no further re-
designs that can be either moving magnet or moving iron. They ported work based on this design.
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 259

Fig. 13 – Solenoid based linear compressor for household refrigeration (a); its instrumentation for testing (b); compressor
efficiencies against operating frequency (c) (Bijanzad et al., 2017).

In a household refrigerator usage, linear compressor ideally research and development apart from (Lee et al., 2004). The char-
should outperform conventional compressors in many aspects. acteristics of linear compressor are detailed in Section 6.
LG design is the only one in the market but has a higher cost,
and using oil and coil spring does not make it attractive com-
pared with crank-driven compressors. Most of designs so far 5. Linear compressor for electronics cooling
are similar to Sunpower one which has drawback itself. The
moving iron design (Bijanzad et al., 2017) is cost effective but 5.1. Miniature VCR system
much less efficient. To outperform conventional compressors
using BLDC motor, linear compressors should offer motor ef- A typical VCR system for electronics cooling is composed of a
ficiency of over 90%. This is however very challenging. More compressor, a condenser, a throttling device, and a heat sink/
novel designs of linear motor are required. Oil-free designs are evaporator, as shown in Fig. 15. Among the available alternatives,
more favourable. Using refrigerant itself as lubricant could be VCR system is one of the only methods which can work in high-
a solution to reducing cost. Moreover, flexure spring can replace temperature ambient, and even result in negative values of
coil spring to reduce the overall size of the linear compressor thermal resistance. The advantages of refrigeration cooling
if piston drift can be solved. For application of higher power include maintenance of low junction temperatures while dis-
output (over 2000 W) such as air conditioner, there is hardly sipating high heat fluxes, potential increases in microprocessor

Fig. 14 – Schematic of a linear compressor with self-compensated gas spring (a) and its prototype (b) (Hasegawa et al.,
2002).
260 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

Fig. 15 – Schematic representation of a VCR system for


electronics cooling (Mongia et al., 2006).

Fig. 16 – Pressure enthalpy diagram of typical R134a


performance at lower operating temperatures, and increased miniature VCR system for electronics cooling (Bradshaw,
chip reliability. It is clear that mechanical vapour compres- 2012).
sion refrigeration is among the most promising of the active
cooling technologies to replace conventional air-cooled heat
sinks. However, the major concerns involving vapour com-
pression refrigeration systems for electronics cooling are their performance for currently available small-scale compressors,
cost, reliability and most importantly, miniaturization of the which are designed for refrigerator applications with a sig-
system (Bradshaw, 2012). nificantly larger pressure ratio. Small scale or miniature oil-
A significant number of studies have been carried out in free linear compressors will allow such miniature VCR system
the past ten years or so regarding miniature and small scale incorporating micro-channel heat exchangers for electronics
refrigeration systems for electronics cooling. Trutassanawin and cooling.
Groll (2004b) summarized commercial refrigeration systems for
electronics cooling and conducted numerical and experimen- 5.2. Linear compressor for miniature VCR system
tal investigations of a miniature VCR system using R134a
(Trutassanawin and Groll, 2004a; Trutassanawin et al., 2006a, Aiming to design small scale refrigeration systems for elec-
2006b). Sathe et al. (2008) experimentally evaluated a minia- tronics cooling, a number of linear compressors have been
ture rotary compressor for application in electronics cooling. incorporated into vapour compressor refrigeration units with
Mongia et al. (2006) developed an R600a (isobutane) proto- compact heat exchangers (for the evaporator and condenser).
type VCR system for portable (notebook) computers using a 12V Unger and Novotny (2002) presented an oil-free linear com-
DC reciprocating compressor and micro-channel heat exchang- pressor for CPU cooling (Sunpower design, as shown in Fig. 8).
ers. A miniature VCR system was built employing a moving Fig. 17 shows that operated at 95 Hz for a 1250 W cooling ca-
magnet linear compressor by Possamai et al. (2008). Other in- pacity using R134a, the coefficient of performance (COP) was
vestigations into refrigeration technology have led to the 3.6 when the evaporator and condenser temperatures were 20 °C
development of system prototypes (Asetek, 2000; Bash et al., and 55 °C, respectively. However, this work did not address
2002; Coggins, 2007; Deming et al., 2008; Ernst and Garimella, solutions and optimization of the entire VCR system, includ-
2009; Maveety et al., 2002; Rao et al., 2007; Schmidt and ing the evaporator and condenser heat exchangers. The
Notohardjono, 2002; Wu et al., 2010; Wu and Du, 2010) and prototype is too large for the miniature VCR system.
system-level models (Agwu Nnanna, 2006; Chang et al., 2010; The University of Oxford’s role in the development of linear
Chiriac and Chiriac, 2007; Heydari, 2002). However, it has been machines started in the late 1970’s when there was a require-
reported by Cremaschi et al. (2007) that the overall perfor- ment to cool an instrument on a satellite designed to investigate
mance and size of these systems are still not at a level that the Earth’s atmosphere. Since then, Oxford-type oil-free linear
is desired for desktop and portable electronic systems. compressors have been widely used in Stirling cryocooler (Bailey
The compressor is certainly the most challenging compo- et al., 2001; Bradshaw et al., 1986; Davey, 1990). Liang et al.
nent of the VCR system in terms of its miniaturization. Studies (2013a) reviewed three generations of Oxford-type linear com-
that have dealt with applications in electronics cooling but were pressors (moving coil type). This led to a novel low-cost moving
not concerned about the actual system miniaturization used magnet linear compressor, for a project in collaboration with
small (but not miniaturized) commercially available compres- London South Bank University and Newcastle University, to
sors. Since some commercial compressors are designed for develop a complete VCR system suitable for computer cooling
operating at large pressure ratios, their performance is poor Davies et al. (2010).
at the relatively small pressure ratio that is often required for Fig. 18a shows the assembled linear compressor, consist-
electronics cooling, as pointed out by Barbosa et al. (2012). Fig. 16 ing of a moving magnet linear motor, a flexure spring
shows a typical VCR cycle for electronics cooling using R134a suspension system and the piston-cylinder assembly. There are
as the working fluid. The small pressure ratio leads to poor two identical compressor halves mounted in line, operating in
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 261

Fig. 17 – Performance of an oil-free linear compressor for CPU cooling (Unger and Novotny, 2002).

opposite directions to reduce vibrations. Fig. 18b shows the key large and no micro-channel heat exchangers were used. Motor
components of the moving magnet linear compressor. The efficiency needs to be further improved by reducing losses.
linear suspension system has two sets of spiral springs to main- Bradshaw (2012) presented a prototype linear compressor
tain the alignment of the piston within the cylinder. The static to validate the compressor model (Bradshaw et al., 2011). The
assembly has 4 magnetic circuits consisting of coils wound on prototype linear compressor shown in Fig. 21 was driven by a
laminated and slotted cores to form an air gap. The moving commercial moving magnet type linear motor (H2W Tech) of
assembly (3 rectangular magnets in a line within the air gap) which the electrical efficiency was assumed to be 41.7%.
is attached to the piston. However, no refrigeration data has been reported since the
Liang et al. (2013b) measured the performance of the oil- purpose of the prototype built was merely to validate the model
free linear compressor using gaseous nitrogen. Liang et al. (2014) and not to obtain optimized performance. The much less ef-
used R134a as refrigerant to measure the performance of the ficient linear motor is not favourable. No high frequency
linear compressor. Fig. 19 shows that high electrical effi- operation is reported.
ciency of over 80% is maintained for a wide range of load. The A moving magnet linear compressor designed by Embraco
measured evaporator temperature falls between 6 °C and 21 °C was utilized by Possamai et al. (2008) for developing a proto-
when the linear compressor operates at different strokes type VCR system using micro-channel heat exchangers for a
(11 mm-13 mm). A COP of 3.2 is achieved at a cooling capac- laptop cooling application. The linear motor efficiency was about
ity of 384 W with an evaporator temperature of 20 °C (stroke 71% (shown in Fig. 22) and the isentropic compression effi-
of 12 mm, pressure ratio of 2.5) and a condenser temperature ciency was about 42%, working with R600a at high operating
of 54 °C as shown in Fig. 20. This is assumed to be a typical frequencies. Details of the linear compressor have not been re-
CPU cooling condition. However, the Oxford design did not ported but the Embraco moving magnet motor is not efficient
address the issue of miniaturization as the prototype is rather with such small size. It can be seen that such miniature VCR

(a) (b)
Fig. 18 – Oxford-type oil-free linear compressor for electronics cooling: (a) Moving magnet linear compressor configuration
(Liang et al., 2014); (b) 100W Oxford moving magnet motor configuration (Liang et al., 2013a).
262 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

Fig. 21 – Section view of the prototype linear compressor


(Bradshaw et al., 2011).

Fig. 19 – Electrical efficiency and isentropic efficiency


However, the efficiency did not reach the expected values due
dependency on stroke using R134a for a condenser outlet
to significant friction loss and gas leakage across the radial
temperature of 50 °C (Liang et al., 2014).
clearance.
Alzoubi and Zhang (2015) presented a compact VCR system
using linear compressor. The prototype unit is able to achieve
system using linear compressor can be used for many inno-
a high coefficient of performance (COP) of 4.5. The VCR system
vative applications, where portability is a key issue.
shown in Fig. 24 consisted of a high performance 300W linear
Wang and Tai (2010) presented a prototype miniature linear
compressor with variable capacity control, expansion valve, air-
compressor, based on Sunpower design (shown in Fig. 23).
cooled condenser, and two micro-channel plate heat exchangers
Maximum stroke is 6.5 mm and resonant frequency is 12 Hz.
acting as evaporator and recuperator. No detail of the linear
compressor was reported.
Mancin et al. (2013) reported a mini VCR for electronic
thermal management in avionic applications. The water cooled
miniature scale refrigeration system (shown in Fig. 25) used
R134a as working fluid and adopted a new concept oil-free linear
compressor prototype. In the range of pressure ratios from 1.54
to 3.75, the cooling capacity of the VCR system varied from 37
W to 374 W, while the coefficient of performance (COP) ranged
between 1.04 and 5.80. No detail of the linear compressor was
reported apart from the supplier Embraco, who designed the
moving magnet linear compressor for the portable miniature
VCR system presented by Possamai et al. (2008). It is very

Fig. 20 – COP and normalised COP variations with stroke at


different pressure ratios with a condenser outlet Fig. 22 – Efficiency of moving magnet linear motor for
temperature of 50 °C (Liang et al., 2014). laptop cooling (Possamai et al., 2008).
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 263

Fig. 23 – Schematic diagram (a) and prototype (b) of a miniature linear compressor (Wang and Tai, 2010).

interesting to see that Embraco is involved in both miniature


linear compressors for electronics cooling and larger version 6. Linear compressor characteristics
for household refrigeration though there is hardly any pub-
lished data regarding the compressor itself. Key characteristics of linear compressor are addressed to give
When used as miniature VCR system for electronics cooling, insight into the design, control and operation of linear
linear compressor needs to be oil-free and miniaturized at compressors for refrigeration. The summary is based on the
higher operating frequency. Designs of Sunpower (Unger and modelling and measurements described above.
Novotny, 2002), Oxford (Liang et al., 2013a, 2014), and Brad-
shaw (Bradshaw, 2012; Bradshaw et al., 2011) did not reach 6.1. Linear motor type
miniature level. It can be seen that Sunpower and Oxford
designs did offer high motor efficiency (over 80%). The only min- Linear motor is the key component of a linear compressor. The
iaturized linear compressor came from Embraco but apart from requirements for an ideal linear motor are as follows (Bailey
the low motor efficiency, there is no published data. It is also et al., 2009):
unknown why the Embraco design has such low motor effi-
ciency with low power output. More studies on high frequency (1) Low cost: small amount of magnet material; low cost
miniature linear compressor with higher efficiency are nec- components that exploit conventional production
essary in near future. This would eventually allow the use of methods.
micro-channel heat exchangers for cooling portable elec- (2) Capable of high efficiency.
tronic devices. (3) Low moving mass.

Fig. 24 – Schematic and prototype of compact VCR system (Alzoubi and Zhang, 2015).
264 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

There are mainly three types of linear motors: moving coil,


moving iron and moving magnet. Wang et al. (2007) summa-
rized the three types of linear motors as shown in Fig. 26.
A typical moving coil linear motor (shown in Fig. 26a) is
similar to those widely used in loudspeakers. A static mag-
netic circuit produces a high radial magnetic field in an annular
air gap. The drive coil is positioned in the air gap and when it
is energised with a current, it develops an axial force. The ap-
plication of an oscillating current to the motor causes the piston
to reciprocate, but without any side forces. The moving coil
motors are easy to design and to control the stroke. However
they require large amount of permanent magnet to achieve high
efficiency. And big size of the moving coil motor due to its low
Fig. 25 – Schematic of the mini-VCR instrumentation power density makes it difficult to be adopted for the compres-
(Mancin et al., 2013). sors of household refrigerators. Another aspect of a moving coil
motor that results in complexity and added cost is the require-
ment for various components to transmit electrical current from
the external power source to the moving drive coil. Moving coil
(4) Simple, robust construction compatible with a spiral motor has been widely used in cryocoolers for many years (Dang,
spring suspension system. 2015; Koh et al., 2002; Reed et al., 2005; Yuan and Maguire, 2004).
(5) Static coils that are external to the pressure vessel. Moving iron motors (shown in Fig. 26b) have stationary
(6) Small envelope. magnets and stator coils in which flux linkage reversal occurs
(7) No magnetic forces acting when coil current is zero (this as the toothed armature reciprocates backwards and for-
helps alignment during assembly). wards. They are robust but the energy conversion density is

(a) (b)

(c)
Fig. 26 – Schematic of three types of linear motors: (a) Moving coil (Redlich et al., 1996); (b) Moving iron (Ibrahim et al., 2010);
(c) Moving magnet (Lee et al., 2004).
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 265

much lower compared to other two types of linear motors.


Moreover, the shaft force per moving mass is even lower, making
it difficult to facilitate the resonant operation at the supply
frequency with minimum spring stiffness (Wang et al., 2007).
Moving iron motors are preferred when the cost is the main
criterion (Zhang et al., 2012). Bijanzad et al. (2017) presented
a prototype of solenoid based moving iron motor (see Fig. 12)
for household refrigeration, which achieved a peak electrical
efficiency of 87%.
The recent development of high-energy permanent magnets-
such as NdFeB – helps design moving magnet types of linear
motors efficient and compact. For the Sunpower moving magnet
design shown in Fig. 26c, the stator is divided into outer and
inner one by the moving magnets embedded in a rigid frame.
The stators are laminated in the radial direction to reduce eddy
current loss. Because of high magnetic flux density of NdFeB,
the moving magnet motors can generate enough force with
small amount of magnets. Therefore, the moving assembly
(magnets and piston) is much lighter compared to that of other
types of motors. Small moving mass means ease to design the
springs for the resonance operation of the linear compressor.
For low cost, the choice is really between moving magnet
and moving iron designs. The moving magnet type is major
trend for the high-power rate of linear motors. Zhang et al.
(2013) concluded that regardless of the high cost of perma-
nent magnets, the moving magnet type is major trend for the
linear compressor of household refrigerator. Apart from Bijanzad Fig. 27 – Electrical power input and mass flow rate as a
et al. (2017), linear compressors described in Section 2 and 3 function of stroke for different pressure ratios using R134a
use moving magnet linear motors. More studies on moving (Liang et al., 2014).
magnet linear motor can be found in (Hassan et al., 2017; Jang
et al., 2004; Wang et al., 1999).
Whilst it is desirable that the motor should be compact, this respond to changing conditions with changes in refrigerant flow
is not considered to be a driving requirement for many appli- rate. By using this approach and piston controllers (by con-
cations. It also has to be noted that the spring suspension trolling the drive/excitation voltage), the cooling capacity of the
system occupies a significant amount of space, so that reduc- linear compressor can then be modulated (Heo et al., 2004; Kim
ing the motor size below certain limits is not necessarily very and Jeong, 2013; Kim et al., 2011; Yoo et al., 2010) while the
beneficial. The main challenge is how to reduce the losses such cooling capacity modulation of the traditional reciprocating
as copper loss, eddy current loss in order to achieve motor ef- compressor requires a rotational speed variation.
ficiency of over 90%. This will allow linear motor to compete Liang et al. (2016b) operated the Oxford-type moving magnet
with BLDC motor which has efficiency of 90% already. Moving linear compressor with fixed minimum clearance volume in
magnet type will dominate as the cost of high-energy perma- comparison with fixed datum position (zero piston offset). The
nent magnets will go down with consistently more supply from results show that though volumetric efficiency was compa-
countries such as China. rable, the motor efficiency was reduced by 6% with fixed
clearance volume operation as more input current and sub-
6.2. Capacity modulation sequent electrical power were needed. Whether this
phenomenon would appear in other types of linear compres-
The mass flow rate for refrigeration system using a linear com- sor is unknown. It is recommended to compare the two
pressor is simply controlled by amplitude or stroke modulation, operation modes for Sunpower type linear compressor as it is
as shown in Fig. 27. This means that there is no need for stop- very commonly adopted and the motor force characteristic is
start operation in which temperature gradients have to be re- different.
established as pointed out by Tassou Tassou et al. (1983).
Liang et al. (2014) concluded that volumetric efficiency for 6.3. Compressor losses
the linear compressor is about 20% lower than the crank-
drive reciprocating compressor as a result of larger clearance A simplified analysis of the linear compressor losses is given
volume to avoid collision between from the cylinder head. To in Fig. 28. The diagram separates the compressor losses into
maintain a high volumetric efficiency it is desirable to have two terms, electrical losses (or motor losses) and thermody-
the piston run as close to the cylinder head as possible to mini- namic losses. The motor loss is composed of mainly the copper
mize the clearance volume. Redlich et al. (1996) also pointed loss, core loss (hysteresis loss and eddy current loss) and other
out that a linear compressor (Sunpower design) with a con- losses (i.e. additional eddy current losses). These losses will
trolled clearance volume has inherent flexibility to continuously account for power lost in the linear motor. The shaft power
266 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

Fig. 28 – Schematic of linear compressor losses (Liang et al.,


2014).

generated will be driving the piston backwards and forwards.


The thermodynamic losses stem from seal leakage, heat trans- Fig. 30 – Mass resonated by the working gas at varying
ferred (out during compression and in during expansion) and operating frequency when pressure ratio and mass flow
pressure drops across the valves. A systematic analysis on these rate remain fixed (Unger and Novotny, 2002).
losses will be sufficient to account for the motor efficiency and
overall compressor efficiency. Understanding and reducing these
loss mechanisms is the key to producing a more efficient linear For given suction and discharge pressures and mass flow
rate m , the required piston diameter D can be expressed as
compressor for future use.
Liang et al. (2014) distributed the losses of a prototype follow:
moving magnet linear compressor operated at its design point
(stroke of 13.4 mm and pressure ratio of 3.0) (Fig. 29). The most 4m 
D= (1)
significant loss is the copper loss (ohmic loss, 34%). Pressure π Sf
drop across the valves can be reduced with appropriate design.
There is scope for significant improvements to the motor design where S is the stroke and f is the operating frequency.
to reduce the additional eddy current loss. Linear compressor is a resonant machine. When the oper-
More work should be done to improve the shaft power ating frequency is increased, the required piston diameter is
output of linear compressor. Generally pressure drop across reduced. Therefore, the gas spring rate will decrease. The
the valves can be easily minimized. Seal leakage can be pre- amount of mass m that can be resonated by the working gas
vented by using contact seal. The key challenge is to improve is also reduced with increasing frequency as follows:
the motor loss, as described in Section 6.1.
ΔPD2
m= (2)
16π f 2S
6.4. Miniaturization

Neglecting losses and resonance, the compressor capacity is Substituting Equation (1) into (2) will give
linearly proportional to the operating frequency. Therefore, ca-
pacity per unit volume or power per unit volume should benefit 1
m∝ (3)
from high operating frequency. If flow losses are neglected, for f3
a given mass flow rate, the required swept volume will be
smaller as the operating frequency is increased. The size and weight of the linear compressor will be sig-
nificantly reduced when the operating frequency is increased
(shown in Fig. 30). The miniaturization of linear compressor
can be achieved at much higher frequency. However, the highest
frequency reported for linear compressor is 95 Hz to date but
not at miniature level. Design of miniature linear compressor
for higher frequency is strongly recommended for future work.
Small and light linear compressor for household refrigerator
will significantly allow more space for refrigeration. However,
to make the resonant frequency at higher value, the suspen-
sion spring should be much stiffer. This is very challenging
when coil spring is used as stiffer spring means more coils and
hence large size and more weight. Resonant frequency is dis-
cussed in Section 6.5.

6.5. Resonant frequency

Fig. 29 – Distributions of the compressor losses for the Linear compressor can operate at resonance to reduce the input
design point (Liang et al., 2014). current required. The compressor spring consists of mechanical
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 267

Fig. 31 – P-V diagram for a pressure ratio of 2.5 showing instantaneous and equivalent cylinder gas spring for the linear
compressor (a) and validation of linearized gas spring by measurements (b) (Liang, 2014).

spring and gas spring. Thus the resonant frequency can be ex- domestic refrigerator applications. The resonant frequency was
pressed as follow: tracked by frequency perturbation and evaluation of the motor
power input, based on the fact that for given amplitude of motor
1 kg + km current, the linear compressor system reaches its maximum
f= (4)
2π m stroke and maximum input and output powers at its reso-
nant frequency.
where kg and km are stiffness for gas spring and mechanical Kim et al. (2009) simulated the resonance and experimen-
spring respectively. tally measured the effect of system resonance on the
When a linear compressor is operated at low pressure ratios performance of a linear compressor for household refrigera-
(below 4.0) for electronics cooling, the gas spring can be esti- tion using R600. This linear compressor has a stroke of 15.2 mm,
mated by linearizing the gas force over the compression and a piston diameter of 30.5 mm, and a motor constant of 93.6
discharge processes (see Fig. 31). Liang (2014) validated this sim- N/A. The variation of the COP was about 3% when the oper-
plified resonance model by measuring the resonant frequency ating frequency varied from 48.5 Hz (off-resonance) to the
for each operating condition. resonant frequency of 50 Hz as shown in Fig. 33a. Liang (2014)
However, when the linear compressor is operated at high measured the off-resonance performance of a linear compres-
pressure ratios (over 4.0), since the part of the gas spring is sor for electronics cooling using R134a. A 5% change in the drive
highly nonlinear and variable throughout the operation, it is frequency away from the resonance requires 11% extra elec-
difficult to calculate the resonance frequency. This can be solved trical power input and reduces the COP by 12%. These off-
by using a much stiffer spring, which can dominate the reso- resonance measurements verify the importance of operating
nance. No accurate estimation of gas spring stiffness is needed.
However, more mechanical springs will increase the size, weight
and cost of the linear compressor. Dainez et al. (2014) pro-
posed a new approach to the linearization of the nonlinear gas
pressure force and a method of adjusting the coefficients of
the total spring, total damping, and equivalent continuous force.
The gas pressure force was replaced by the sum of other three
linear forces that compensate for the nonlinear effects of the
gas pressure force as shown in Fig. 32.
Xia and Chen (2010) used CFD and FEM to analyse the reso-
nance of the linear compressor and concluded that the “magnet
spring” effect existed and affected the resonant frequency of
the moving magnet type linear compressor. Minas (1994) mod-
elled the nonlinear dynamics of the piston as well as nonlinear
effects within a linear motor for an oil-free linear compres-
sor. Lin et al. (2007) proposed a resonant frequency tracking
technique which was adopted by Wang and Howe (2008) in de- Fig. 32 – Gas pressure force, equivalent forces and resultant
veloping a linear motor to drive a linear compressor for force (Dainez et al., 2014).
268 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

Fig. 33 – Off-resonance performance of linear compressors: (a) Off-resonance results of linear compressor for household
refrigeration (Kim et al., 2009); (b) Off-resonance results of linear compressor for electronics cooling (Liang, 2014).

the linear compressor at resonance. However, as the efficiency/ predicted the piston offset by assuming that the piston was
frequency curves are fairly flat, it is not necessary to be very acting against enclosed volumes on either side. Zou et al. (2012)
precise in choosing the operating frequency, particularly for employed a formula (Choe and Kim, 2000) to calculate the piston
low pressure ratio operation. offset, and validated the method by experiments.
It still remains unknown how instantaneous it is to track The piston offset can be countered in different ways, some
the resonant frequency at pressure ratios over 10 as the gas of which have been adopted in recent studies:
spring becomes very nonlinear. Also designing compact sus-
pension system for higher resonant frequency is also very (1) Increasing the mechanical spring stiffness relative to the
challenging. More work should be directed to these two areas gas spring stiffness. This method was implemented in
in near future. the LG linear compressor. Eight cylindrical coil springs
with a total stiffness of 118 N/mm were used in the com-
6.6. Piston drift/offset mercial LG linear compressor, which dominated the
system resonance reported by Bradshaw (2012). However,
Liang et al. (2016b) reported piston offset in a linear compres- by using this approach, when the linear compressor is
sor. The problem of piston offset (or drift) is caused by the developed for applications with high gas forces such as
differential pressure generated across a radial clearance seal air conditioning compressors, the quantities of the me-
which has a fluctuating pressure on one side of it (piston- chanical springs and the outline dimension of the linear
cylinder) and an almost constant pressure on the other (body), compressor will be much larger, as pointed out by Zou
as shown in Fig. 1. The pressure differential is given by et al. (2012). On the other hand, more springs with a larger
dimension will not be a good option when developing
ΔP1 = P1,m + P1,a sin (ω t ) − Pb (5) a linear compressor for incorporation into a miniature
VCR system for electronics cooling.
If there is a difference between the mean working pres- (2) Superimposing a DC bias on the AC drive voltage. Using
sure P1,m and the body pressure Pb there will be a net axial force this approach, Young and Chang (2005) developed a device
which is only counteracted by the mechanical springs, and this and method for controlling the piston position by de-
will result in a shift of the mean position of the piston. If tecting a phase difference between the current and stroke
the piston is not oscillating about the “mechanical zero” of the waveforms so that the compression clearance becomes
springs, there will be a reduction in the useful stroke of the a minimum during operation of the linear compressor.
compressor. If there is no control strategy and if the piston offset However, this approach will increase the resistive (ohmic)
is large, then the piston may hit the cylinder head. loss (Liang et al., 2016b).
Bradshaw (2012) also reported piston drift from its datum (3) Adding mechanical and/or electromagnetic “stops” to
position during operation and the linear compressor model limit the motion of the piston. This will enable a safe op-
showed that the drift decreased with the dead (clearance) eration of the linear compressor, preventing the piston
volume and increased with the stroke-diameter ratio of the from hitting the cylinder head.
piston. Spoor and Corey (2004) derived simple expressions for (4) Control of the pressure in the compressor body, which
the time-average mass flux through a clearance seal and typically requires a small bleed flow of gas from the
international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273 269

Linear Motor in Huang and Chen (2002); Park et al. (2004); Yang and Huang
(1997).
The key issue with position sensing and calculation is the
Main Coils Commercial resolution. The higher resolution it has, the higher pressure
Power
Search Coil Inverter ratio the linear compressor can operate at. This will then reduce
the stroke required hence the power input. More investiga-
Current Sensor
tions on high resolution piston position sensing are very
Voltage Sensor necessary.
Proxmity Sensor

Voltage Sensor
Control Unit Stroke Control
Frequency control

Solenoid Valve 7. Challenges and recommended work

Offset Control Although there are already a lot of work on the modelling and
measurements of different types of linear compressor, a few
Fig. 34 – Linear compressor control schematic (Liang et al., key issues remain unsolved. Further works on these are rec-
2016a). ommended to develop a cost effective oil-free linear compressor
with high efficiency and small size.

(1) A systematic comparison between linear compressor and


compressor body to the suction side. Liang et al. (2016b) equivalent conventional compressor should be made ex-
adopted this approach to control the piston offset by perimentally in terms of efficiency, cooling capacity and
using a solenoid valve to adjust the bleed flow rate. impact of oil.
(2) Cost is the main challenge of linear compressor. Al-
Cost is the major concern when considering the tech- though rare earth material cost for linear motor can be
nique for solving the piston drift. Using bleed flow controlled reduced, other cost such as solenoid valve and extra
solenoid valve adds extra cost. How this would affect the pro- manufacturing process (clean room) could add more cost
duction cost is unknown. A cheap and low frequency (1 Hz) to the linear compressor product. It would be interest-
solenoid will significantly reduce the overall cost. ing to see if Embraco could really manufacture their oil-
free linear compressor for large scale. It is recommended
to use refrigerant itself as the lubricant to reduce the pro-
6.7. Piston sensing and control duction cost.
(3) Modelling the linear compressor requires complicated
The linear compressor is a free piston system, so that the sub-models such as mass and heat transfer in the cyl-
cooling capacity can be modulated by the piston stroke control. inder and the gas leakage across the radial clearance.
Both piston stroke and piston offset require detection and The main concern is the very nonlinear gas spring at
control in valved compressors. The stroke is controlled by ad- higher pressure ratios, which could dominate the reso-
justing the drive voltage (excitation voltage). In order to nance. More understanding of the gas spring will help
manufacture linear compressor in large scale, then a simple, track the resonant frequency instantaneously.
robust, and cheap control system is required with a minimum (4) Designing linear compressor for high power applica-
of sensors and actuators. tion such as air conditioner is very challenging.
Liang et al. (2016a) presented a linear compressor control Suspension spring and motor design need a lot of studies.
system (shown in Fig. 34) using a search coil. The piston stroke Linear motor needs efficiency of over 90% to be compa-
was detected by calculating the peak-to-peak flux linkage in rable with BLDC motor. This brings challenges to reduce
relation to the measured drive voltage and current. The piston the iron loss, copper loss and eddy current loss.
offset was proportional to an integrated modulus of the back (5) Miniature linear compressor for electronics cooling with
electromotive force (emf) of the search coil. Accuracy of 0.1 mm high efficiency has not been developed to date. High fre-
was achieved for detecting the piston stroke. quency operation at resonance is difficult as very stiff
Lee et al. (2000) controlled the AC voltage to control the spring is needed.
piston stroke of the linear compressor. Chun and Ahn (2008) (6) The key issue with position sensing and simulation is
applied a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) inverter to drive the the resolution. For higher pressure ratio operation, reso-
linear motor by adjusting both voltage and frequency accord- lution needs to be much higher. Further investigations
ing to the load variation. Lee et al. (2008) demonstrated that on high resolution piston position sensing are very nec-
the cooling capacity was proportionally modulated by the under- essary. This will reduce the cost of the control system
stroke operation of the piston with a PWM inverter. Kim et al. significantly.
(2011) presented a self-capacity modulated linear compres- (7) It is possible to design linear compressor for ammonia
sor by tuning the LC resonance. The piston stroke was derived refrigeration system by keeping the windings outside the
from the system dynamics. Thus no stroke controller is re- pressure containment. This will allow the copper and its
quired. More studies regarding the piston control can be found alloy not to be in contact with ammonia.
270 international journal of refrigeration 84 (2017) 253–273

Bailey, P.B., Dadd, M.W., Stone, C.R., 2009. An oil-free linear


8. Conclusions compressor for use with compact heat exchangers.
Proceedings of International Conference on Compressors and
their Systems, Institute of Mechanical Engineering, London,
Linear compressor is a very attractive technology for vapour
pp. 259–268.
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ciency, resonant operation, small size and simple capacity compressors for refrigeration. Proceedings of Institute of
modulation. Linear compressor has significant advantages over Refrigeration, 4-1.
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3760.
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Moving magnet type linear motor becomes the major trend
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However, this will significantly increase the overall compres- Electronics Cooling (Ph.D. thesis). Purdue University.
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model of miniature-scale linear compressor for electronics
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cost effective compared with other solutions. For household useful benefits. Proceedings of International Compressor
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analysis of a comprehensive model for a miniature-scale
NdFeB) can be cost effective. Contacting seal designs can be
linear compressor for electronics cooling. Int. J. Refrigeration
considered, as they seem to be an attractive option that could
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simplify manufacture and reduce material requirement (coating Bradshaw, T.W., Delderfield, J., Werret, S.T., Davey, G., 1986.
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sor in large scale, a minimum of sensors and actuators are refrigerator. In: Advances in Cryogenic Engineering, vol. 31.
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Acknowledgments load. J. Basic Eng. ASME 91 (4), 664–670.
Chang, C.-C., Liang, N.-W., Chen, S.-L., 2010. Miniature vapor
compressor refrigeration system for electronic cooling. IEEE
Authors are grateful to The Engineering and Physical Sci- Transactions of Components and Packaging Technologies,
ences Research Council (EPSRC) for funding the construction 33(4).
of the linear compressor (Grant Ref EP/E036899/1) and the sub- Chang, K.-S., 1998. Linear compressor with compact motor. US
Patent 5772410.
sequent EPSRC IAA fund for further development.
Chen, N., Tang, Y.-J., Wu, Y.-N., Chen, X., Xu, L., 2007. Study on
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