Liquid pumping requires large quantities of electrical energy, including about 7% of the energy of building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. To replace pumped condenser-cooling tower water loops with a passive alternative system, we implemented a commercial-scale two-phase loop thermosyphon (TPLT). The unit consists of a 13 m riser integrated with a commercially available cooling tower and circulation water heater that simulates heat loads up to 25 kW. In addition to providing passive cooling capabilities, the cooling tower unit is also maintenance free, reliable, and can operate in both dry and wet modes. This study characterizes the performance (temperature difference between the evaporator and condenser) and the two-phase flow behavior of the loop under various refrigerant charges. Sight glasses installed throughout the loop are used to identify the operating flow regimes in the riser and downcomer. Over the range of operating conditions, we identified that there is an optimal refrigerant charge range for a specific heat load at which near-isothermal operation can be achieved. We further developed a model to predict the operating flow rate and gravitational height in the downcomer and compared it with the experimental data. The results show that the model agrees with the experimental data, in particular the threshold gravitational head height at which there will be subcooled liquid at the condenser exit, indicating that it can be used as a predictive tool for identifying the optimal loop charge for a given heat load.

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