An evaporator is a component found in refrigeration systems, air-conditioning systems, refrigeration plants, and other kinds of equipment built to serve functions other than temperature regulation.
In refrigeration and air condition systems, it is in the evaporator that the actual cooling takes place. The same applies in the way refrigeration van compartments are chilled – the evaporator plays the last, and perhaps, the most important role in expelling heat from the vehicle.
Aside from the purpose it serves in refrigeration cum air conditioning systems, an evaporator can be used in other ways as a stand-alone machine. These include:
Concentration of liquid foods
The evaporator can be used to remove liquids from liquid mixtures. This process is generally used to concentrate liquid foods to vaporize most of the water that is contained in the product. This technique is used on foods such as soup, condensed/concentrated milk, fruit juices, and beverages in general.
In evaporating liquid from a particular substance, a portion of the solvent is vaporized producing a product with a thick texture. Examples include the evaporation of brine to produce salt.
Preservation of foods and beverages
Evaporation comes in handy in the preservation of food and beverages during production (and even after for temperature-sensitive foods). It is used to increase the solid content of food, change the color, and so on. Concentrated foods cut across seasonings, starch, coffee, sugar, sauces, and others.
This evaporation process is usually done to make certain products last for a considerable amount of time and to retain freshness and taste.
Preservation of pharmaceutical products
The pharmaceutical industry also uses evaporators to remove excess moisture in products. Preservation of long-term activity or stabilization of enzymes in laboratories is greatly assisted by the evaporation process.
Removing moisture from waste products
Companies that produce tons of waste on a daily basis have a high cost of disposal to contend with. The use of evaporation, however, presents a better solution to the problem. Evaporation is used to reduce the amount of waste that is to be processed by removing moisture from it through vaporization. The mass and weight of the waste is reduced significantly.
Evaporators in refrigeration systems
Refrigerators are used to create a cold environment making it suitable for the preservation of food and other temperature-sensitive products. The process of refrigeration involves removing heat from the environment rather than introducing cold air into it. Different components of the refrigeration system play key roles in ensuring that this happens.
Step by step process:
- The cold liquid refrigerant flows into the evaporator coils
- An evaporator fan takes air from the refrigerator and blows it over the evaporator coils
- The refrigerant absorbs heat from the air and the air goes back into the refrigerator at a lower temperature, cooling the refrigerator.
- The refrigerant begins to vaporize and eventually ends up in the compressor, and the following processes leads to the expulsion of heat from the fridge.
Energy consumption in refrigerators
As long as the three components needed to make for effective cooling are functioning, the refrigerator will consume energy. There are, however, instances where an unusual amount of energy is consumed and that could be as a result of some irregularities.
Components not functioning as they should
In cases where one or more of the components needed to reduce temperature becomes faulty, the result is under-performance and increased energy consumption. This needs to be checked regularly and faulty components replaced.
Increased heat infiltration
The more heat gains access into your fridge the more work the refrigeration system has to do, and this leads to higher energy consumption. Sometimes, the issue might be with the mechanism that keeps heat away or the refrigerator door is not closed properly.
Evaporators in air conditioners
In air conditioners, evaporators play a key role alongside condenser coils to absorb heat from an environment and direct it outside thereby reducing the temperature inside.
The evaporator coil/core is that part of the system where the refrigerant absorbs heat. These coils are typically located near the air handler near the blower fan.
How evaporators work in air conditioning
- When you power on the AC, the compressor pulls liquid refrigerant through the tubing in the evaporator coil.
- Before passing through the evaporator coil, the refrigerant goes through the expansive valve relieving pressure from it.
- As it leaves the valve, the liquid refrigerant is now cold allowing it to easily absorb heat from the air.
Keeping the evaporator coils clean
The evaporator plays a key role in removing heat but its efficiency can be affected when it isn’t kept clean. This can lead to the following problems:
- Higher energy use: when the coils can’t absorb as much heat as they should, they run longer, meaning higher energy use.
- Impaired heat absorption and cooling functionality
- Ice buildup
Your air conditioner can go from providing the cool environment you need to just running without any noticeable changes. This could be caused by a dirty evaporator. Regularly servicing your AC will help keep it in the best condition.
As we have shown here, the evaporator is a very important part of any device regardless of the duty it performs. To keep it running properly, it should be kept in good condition by servicing and replacing parts as necessary.