Performance improvement of vapor compression heat pump with superhydrophobic finned-tube evaporator

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  • Zanshe Wang
  • Yang Zhang
  • Zhang Li
  • Zhaolin Gu


Original languageEnglish
Article number109013
Journal / PublicationJournal of Building Engineering
Online published8 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2024


Residential buildings frequently employ vapor compression heat pump for winter heating. Its advantages over electric and coal-fired heating include great energy effectiveness and low emissions. However, the outside evaporator's frosting negatively impacts the performance of heat pump systems in low-temperature and high-humidity environments. To ameliorate the frosting problem, a finned-tube heat exchanger with superhydrophobic surface wettability prepared by the wet chemical etching method was applied to a vapor compression heat pump in this study. The performance of a commercial evaporator unit and the superhydrophobic evaporator unit under five frosting conditions was investigated through experiments. The maximum heat transfer rate of the superhydrophobic heat exchanger unit was increased by 17%–44% compared with that of the commercial unit. The COP improvement of the superhydrophobic unit reached 11.2%, 14.3%, 18.8%, 20.9% and 31.9%, respectively. The total mass of frost formation of the superhydrophobic unit experienced a 59.2%–76.3% decrease. The operation time of the superhydrophobic evaporator unit before defrosting determination was significantly extended, reducing the number of defrosting times during a long-time operation. This study proves the advantages of superhydrophobic finned-tube evaporators used in heat pumps in terms of heat transfer performance and frost suppression performance, promoting the application of superhydrophobic finned-tube evaporators in heat pump air-conditioning systems. © 2024 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Heat pump, Superhydrophobic finned-tube evaporator, Heating capacity, Frosting