Diffusion absorption refrigeration (DAR) cycles enable passive fully thermally-driven refrigeration for off-grid purposes. Typically, DAR units are designed for a given heat supply load and temperature, although real operation inevitably involves unsteady variations in these inputs. In this study, a thermally-driven DAR unit with a nominal cooling capacity of 120 W is connected to an electric heat source. The working fluid is ammonia-water NH3/H2O, with hydrogen (H2) added as an auxiliary gas to keep the system pressure constant and to decrease the partial pressure of the refrigerant (ammonia) in the evaporator. A control unit is used to adjust and measure the input heat-source power applied to the unit. The operating pressure of the system is 20.7 bar, the ambient temperature is 22 °C and the input thermal power is in the range 250 to 700 W. The cooling capacity of the unit and the input heat load are measured simultaneously at different operation conditions. To measure the cooling power, a cold box is constructed around the evaporator, and a second heater is located inside the cold box which sets the cold space temperature equal to that of the ambient. This allows the coefficient of performance (COP) to be evaluated. The COP and cooling capacity of the unit are investigated at part load by varying the heat supply, from which maximum values are obtained (0.28 and 110 W, respectively). Finally, experimental results are compared to the theoretical predictions from a thermodynamic model of a DAR cycle. Once validated, the model is also used to find the properties of the fluid mixture in different states in the DAR cycle.

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