Research Papers: Operations, Applications and Components

Performance Evaluation of a Respirator Vortex Cooling Device

[+] Author and Article Information
Ashley D. Elizondo

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions,
Savannah River Site,
Aiken, SC 29808
e-mail: ashley.elizondo@srs.gov

Robert K. Iacovone, III

Savannah River National Laboratory,
Savannah River Site,
Aiken, SC 29808
e-mail: robert.iacovone@srnl.doe.gov

1The Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube (RHVT) was invented by French physicist Georges Ranque in 1931 and further developed by German physicist Rudolph Hilsch in 1947.

The United States Government retains, and by accepting the article for publication, the publisher acknowledges that the United States Government retains, a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for United States government purposes.Contributed by the Pressure Vessel and Piping Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received June 20, 2017; final manuscript received July 10, 2018; published online August 31, 2018. Assoc. Editor: San Iyer.

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 140(5), 051604 (Aug 31, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: PVT-17-1115; doi: 10.1115/1.4041056 History: Received June 20, 2017; Revised July 10, 2018

The United States Department of Energy's Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina, is dedicated to promoting site-level, risk-based inspection practices to maintain a safe and productive work environment. Protective suits are worn by personnel working in contaminated environments. These suits require that cooling be applied to keep the interior temperature within safe and comfortable limits. A vortex tube, also known as the Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube (RHVT), can provide the necessary cooling. As mechanical devices void of moving components, vortex tubes separate a compressed gas into hot and cold streams—the air emerging from the “hot” end reaching a temperature of 433.2 K and the air emerging from the “cold” end reaching a temperature of 241.5 K (Hilsch, 1946, “Die Expansion Von Gasen Im Zentrifugalfeld Als Kälteprozeß,” Z. Für Naturforsch., 1, pp. 208–214). Routing the cold stream of the vortex tube to the user's protective suit facilitates the required cooling. Vortex tubes currently in use at SRS are preset, through modification solely by and within the SRS respiratory equipment facility (REF), to provide a temperature reduction between 22.2 and 25.0 K. When a new model of vortex tube capable of user adjustment during operation recently became available, prototype testing was conducted for product comparison. Ultimately, it was identified that similar cooling performance between the old and new models is achievable. Production units were acquired to be subjected to complete product analysis at SRS utilizing a statistical test plan. The statistical test plan, data, thermodynamic calculations, and conclusions were reviewed to determine acceptability for site use.

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Fig. 7

A Plexiglas® airflow chamber was used to measure the total volumetric rate of airflow through a RHVT

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Fig. 8

Experimental setup for PSAR jacket and helmet noise level test

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Fig. 6

A Fluke 51 II thermometer was utilized to collect air temperature measurements during testing

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Fig. 5

The Cejn test apparatus consisted of a 9.525-mm diameter Cejn quick disconnect fitting attached to a small length of breathing air hose

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Fig. 4

The PSSD receives the cold air stream from the vortex tube and distributes fractions of the cold stream to the helmet plenum and leg air hoses

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Fig. 3

Vortex tube testing station

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Fig. 2

RHVT with user adjustable control valve

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Fig. 1

Counterflow vortex tube Reprinted with permission from Xue et al. [3], (Reprinted with permission from Elsevier copyright 2013)

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Fig. 10

SPC Chart of temperature drop relative to ambient room temperature (K) at 20 min (Diff20)

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Fig. 11

Normal quantile plot, histogram, and fitted normal distribution for Diff20 (K)

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Fig. 12

Skewness–Kurtosis plot for Diff20 data

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Fig. 9

Temperature drop relative to ambient room temperature (K) initially, after 10 and after 20 min

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Fig. 13

Ambient room temp (K) versus RHVT

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Fig. 14

Diff20 versus ambient temp (C)



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