Erin Canfield


Due to the overwhelming concern of global warming and ozone depletion, the replacement of many currently used refrigerants is a pressing matter within all sectors of refrigeration. Presently, the hydroflourocarbon (HFC) 134a, the working fluid of automotive air conditioning (AC) systems, greatly contributes to global warming as the result of system leakage. Both chemical and natural refrigerant losses impose threats to the environment and human health as well as reduce operational efficiency which increases energy consumption. If no action is taken to replace the chemical refrigerants, then it is proposed that the emissions from fluorinated gasses would increase from 65.2 million tons of carbon dioxide (the value found in 1995) to 98 million tons by 2010 [ 2004]. Natural refrigerants have gained worldwide attention as the logical replacement for chemical refrigerants. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the natural refrigerant receiving the most attention due to its abundance in nature. When deciding to replace a refrigerant worldwide, many factors are taken under consideration. The benefits and necessary changes that occur when using CO2 as the working fluid are explored. One important aspect of using CO2 as a replacement refrigerant in automotive AC systems lies in diagnosing refrigerant leakage within a faulty system. A reliable and easy to use refrigerant leakage detection and diagnosis system is a necessity for automotive mechanics.

In current research at RIT, advanced thermodynamics is being used to develop a fault detection and diagnosis system specifically for the future CO2 automotive AC systems. A simulation of the automotive air conditioning system using the software program Engineering Equation Solver (EES) is developed to simulate normal and faulty operation of the AC system. The model incorporates an exergetic analysis which combines the conservation of mass and conservation of energy laws with the second law of Thermodynamics. Fundamental laws of thermodynamics are used to verify data provided by past work [McEnaney 1999] obtained during normal operation. Using the EES model, refrigerant losses are simulated throughout the system one at a time at locations prone to leakage and the model produces a faulty operating data library. Analyzing the simulated fault data for possible trends or patterns is done in order to detect future system faults and to diagnose the faults accordingly. Trends are produced from the faulty data and are shown in graphical form. It is possible to detect and diagnose leaks by looking at the trends for a component where leaks are not even occurring.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Carbon dioxide--Environmental aspects; Leak detectors; Automobiles--Air conditioning--Environmental aspects; Refrigerants; Exergy

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Margaret Bailey

Advisor/Committee Member

Jeffrey Kozak

Advisor/Committee Member

William Scarbrough


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TD885.5.C3 C36 2005


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