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Reduced Order Model to Predict Dispersion of Flammable Refrigerant into a Space...

by Kevin D Edwards, Ahmed G Abuheiba, Miroslav K Stoyanov
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Book Title
Proceedings of the ASHRAE 2023 Winter Conference
Publication Date
Publisher Location
Georgia, United States of America
Conference Name
Conference Location
Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

As the HVAC&R industry mobilizes to deploy more low-GWP refrigerants, relevant standards are being continually reviewed and updated. Those include the general safety standards ISO 5149 and ASHRAE 15, and the equipment standards IEC and UL. The standards systematically set the allowable maximum amount of refrigerant that should be used in different equipment types and different applications. To do so, they rely on predictions of how a leaked refrigerant mass will disperse into a space. Dispersion characteristics, such as total flammable volume and its residence time, determine the risk associated with the presence of the flammable refrigerant. The standards have included provisions for the use of flammable refrigerants for approximately two decades. They relied on limited analytical analyses and test cases in their development. Dispersion of a refrigerant into a space is complex. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) are the most accurate in predicting a given problem. However, CFD is computationally expensive and requires specialized expertise and resources and is not suitable for use by standards development working group as prediction tool. This paper presents the development of a reduced order model (ROM) that predicts the key dispersion characteristics relevant to the dispersion of a leaked refrigerant into a space for any combination of input variables. The inputs are the refrigerant release height, the total released refrigerant mass and its release flow rate, the refrigerant molecular weight, the ventilation flow rate, the floor area and height of the space, recirculation air flow rate, and the tightness of the space. The outputs are histograms of volume fraction of the room in prescribed concentration bins and the total mass of the refrigerant in each bin normalized by the total refrigerant charge at 13 prescribed simulation time stamps between 1 and 900 seconds. The ROM is constructed from a set of CFD simulations with carefully chosen combinations of input parameters. The selection if done using a multidimensional sparse grid which is a generalization of the classical tensor approach but offers additional flexibility and thus can be more carefully tuned towards a specific model. The tuning is done to improve the accuracy, measured in the difference between the output values of the ROM and the CFD model, while minimizing the computational cost, measured in number of CFD simulations which is orders of magnitude more expensive than the processing the training data.