Thermal expansion valve

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Thermostatic expansion valve

A thermal expansion valve (often abbreviated as TEV, TXV, or TX valve) is a component in refrigeration and air conditioning systems that controls the amount of refrigerant released into the evaporator thereby keeping superheat, that is, the difference between the current refrigerant temperature and its saturation temperature at the current pressure, at a stable value, ensuring that the only phase in which the refrigerant leaves the evaporator is vapor, and, at the same time, supplying the evaporator's coils with the optimal amount of liquid refrigerant to achieve the optimal heat exchange rate allowed by that evaporator. Thermal expansion valves are often referred to generically as "metering devices".


Flow control, or metering, of the refrigerant is accomplished by use of a temperature sensing bulb, filled with a similar gas as in the system, that causes the valve to open against the spring pressure in the valve body as the temperature on the bulb increases. As the suction line temperature decreases, so does the pressure in the bulb and therefore on the spring, causing the valve to close. An air conditioning system with a TX valve is often more efficient than other designs that do not use one[1]. Also, TX valve air conditioning systems don't require an accumulator (a refrigerant tank placed downstream of the evaporator's outlet), since the valves reduce the liquid refrigerant flow when the evaporator's thermal load decreases, so that all the refrigerant completely evaporates inside the evaporator (in normal operating conditions such as a proper evaporator temperature and airflow). However, a liquid refrigerant receiver tank needs to be placed in the liquid line before the TX valve so that, in low evaporator thermal load conditions, any excess liquid refrigerant can be stored inside it.

A thermal expansion valve is a key element to a heat pump; this is the cycle that makes air conditioning, or air cooling, possible. A basic refrigeration cycle consists of four major elements: a compressor, a condenser, a metering device and an evaporator. As a refrigerant passes through a circuit containing these four elements, air conditioning occurs. The cycle starts when refrigerant enters the compressor in a low-pressure, moderate-temperature, gaseous form. The refrigerant is compressed by the compressor to a high-pressure and high-temperature gaseous state. The high-pressure and high-temperature gas then enters the condenser. The condenser cools the high-pressure and high-temperature gas to a high-pressure liquid by transferring heat to a lower temperature medium, usually ambient air.

The high pressure liquid then enters the expansion valve where the TX valve allows a portion of the refrigerant to enter the evaporator. In order for the higher temperature fluid to cool, the flow must be limited into the evaporator to keep the pressure low and allow expansion back into the gas phase. The TXV has a sensing bulb that is connected to the suction line of the refrigerant piping so that the temperature of the refrigerant that leaves the evaporator can be sensed. The gas pressure in the sensing bulb provides the force to open the TXV, therefore adjusting the flow of refrigerant and the superheat. [2]



There are two main types of thermal expansion valves: internally or externally equalized. The difference between externally and internally equalized valves is how the evaporator pressure affects the position of the needle. In internally equalized valves, the evaporator pressure against the diaphragm is the pressure at the inlet of the evaporator, whereas in externally equalized valves, the evaporator pressure against the diaphragm is the pressure at the outlet of the evaporator. Externally equalized thermostatic expansion valves compensate for any pressure drop through the evaporator.[3]

Internally equalized valves can be used on single circuit evaporator coils having low pressure drop. Externally equalized valves must be used on multi-circuited evaporators with refrigerant distributors. Externally equalized TXVs can be used on all applications; however, an externally equalized TXV cannot be replaced with an internally equalized TXV.[4] A type of internally equalized thermal expansion valve, known as the block type valve, which features an internal sensing bulb, located inside the suction line connection and in constant contact with the refrigerant flow, is nowadays often used on automotive evaporators that don't require externally equalized TXVs.


  1. ^ Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Technology
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Flow Control-Contractor Tip Card" (PDF). Emerson Climate Technologies. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Thermostatic Expansion Valves" (PDF). Parker Hannifin Corporation, Sporlan Division. Retrieved 16 June 2014.

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