Research Papers

Computational Investigation of Air-Heater Performance Using Natural Gas, Biogas, and Syngas as Fuels

[+] Author and Article Information
Gerardo Diaz

School of Engineering,
University of California,
5200 North Lake Road,
Merced, CA 95343
e-mail: gdiaz@ucmerced.edu

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received May 27, 2013; final manuscript received February 3, 2014; published online March 21, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Alexander L. Brown.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 6(3), 031011 (Mar 21, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: TSEA-13-1093; doi: 10.1115/1.4026813 History: Received May 27, 2013; Revised February 03, 2014; Accepted February 04, 2014

Alternative fuels, mainly generated from waste, constitute a possible option to reduce the demand for fossil fuels. For instance, biogas can be obtained from cow manure using anaerobic digesters, a technology that is currently being implemented in several dairy farms. Synthesis gas, also known as syngas, is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide that may have fractions of other components such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane, depending on the gasifying method used. However, before a change to alternative fuels can be made, the performance of common appliances and industrial equipment using these fuels needs to be investigated. In this paper, a computational analysis of the performance of an air heater using natural gas, biogas, and syngas is performed. The results show that alternative fuels with heat values almost an order of magnitude lower than natural gas can be used in commercial air heaters with only minor variations in thermal performance. The main drawback is the higher flow rates required for alternative fuels, specially for syngas.

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Fig. 1

Air heater geometry

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Fig. 2

Validation of the simulation of turbulent flow past a cylinder. Pressure coefficient (Cp) versus angle measured from stagnation point (Θ). — = present work at Re = 1 × 106, ◯ = experiment by Ref. [25] at Re = 1.2 × 106, ○=experiment by Falchsbart (in Ref. [26] at Re = 6.7 × 105, and X = LES by Ref. [27] at Re = 1 × 106.

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Fig. 3

Computational model of the air heater

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Fig. 4

External air velocity profiles at three different sections inside the air heater (fuel: natural gas). Similar profiles were obtained for biogas and syngas fuels.

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Fig. 5

Exhaust gas velocity profiles at three different sections inside the air heater (fuel: natural gas). Similar profiles were obtained for biogas and syngas fuels.

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Fig. 6

External air temperature profiles at three different sections inside the air heater (fuel: natural gas)

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Fig. 7

Exhaust gases temperature profiles inside the tube of the air heater (fuel: natural gas)

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Fig. 8

Comparison of LHV versus m· and ΔTair versus m· for the three flow rates used for natural gas, biogas, and syngas, respectively



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