This thesis contributes to the knowledge and the characterization of scroll machines and their systems. It is based on experimental and modeling works carried out on:
a) A hermetic scroll compressor used inside an air-cooled water chiller.
b) An oil-free open-drive scroll expander integrated into an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power system.
c) Open-drive scroll compressor and expander used in a Liquid Flooded Ericsson Cycle Cooler (LFEC). Such a system uses the liquid flooding of the compressor and of the expander to approach isothermal compression and expansion processes.
New semi-empirical models of the scroll compressor and expander were proposed and existing models improved.
A deterministic model of the scroll expander was established. The model associates a geometrical description of the machine with a thermodynamic description of the expansion process. This model was validated for the two expanders investigated experimentally. The model validation revealed that the performance of the expanders is mainly affected by the supply pressure drop and by the internal leakages. Using the validated model, parametric studies were carried out to investigate the variation of the performance of both expanders with modification of their design and with the operating parameters.
The thesis also investigated the scroll machines from the point of view of their integration into thermal systems.
A first experimental investigation was carried out on an air-cooled chiller. The scroll compressor semi-empirical model, with its parameters identified on the basis of published manufacturer data, was used as a refrigerant flow meter. The analysis of the experimental data allowed a better understanding of the chiller operation and a better identification of its model parameters (such as the fan and the hot gas bypass control models).
A second experimental investigation was carried out on an ORC power system, working with R123. In order to select the most appropriate fluid, the performances achieved with four different fluids were compared by simulation. The experimental study confirmed that the scroll expander is a good candidate for an ORC system: the tested prototype presented a good performance (the maximum global isentropic effectiveness achieved was 68%). Using an ORC simulation model, parametric studies were carried out to investigate the effects of the expander characteristics and operating conditions on the cycle performance. The latter is mainly affected by the expander internal leakage and by the liquid subcooling at the condenser exhaust.
A third experimental investigation was performed on a LFEC working with nitrogen as refrigerant and alkyl-benzene oil as flooding liquid. Experimental data was used to identify the parameters of the scroll compressor and expander semi-empirical models. Parametric studies were performed to identify the different factors affecting their performance. One of the undesirable features of the machines is the increase of the supply and exhaust pressure drops with the increase of oil quantity.