The focus of the world is on the reduction of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which contribute to the global warming currently experienced. Because most of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is from fossil fuel combustion, alternative energy sources were developed and others are currently under study to see whether they will be good alternatives. One of these alternative sources of energy is the combustion of wood instead of coal. The advantages of wood are that it is a neutral carbon fuel source and that currently installed infrastructure used to combust coal can be retrofitted to combust wood or a mixture of wood and coal in an attempt to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions.
Spent nuclear fuel has to be cooled so that the decay heat generated does not melt the containment system, which could lead to the unintentional release of radioactive material to the surroundings. The heat transfer mechanisms involved in the cooling have historically been analysed by assuming that the fluid and solid phases are at local thermal equilibrium (LTE) in order to simplify the analysis.
The exergy destruction of the combustion of pine wood in an adiabatic combustor was investigated in this thesis using analytical and computational methods. The exergy destruction of the combustion process was analysed by means of the second law efficiency, which is the ratio of the maximum work that can be achieved by a Carnot engine extracting heat from the combustor, and the optimum work of the combustor. This was done for theoretical air combustion and various excess air combustions, with varied inlet temperatures of the incoming air. It was found that the second law efficiency reached an expected maximum for theoretical air combustion, and this held true for all varying air inlet temperatures. However, it was found that as the air inlet temperature was increased more and more, the maximum second law efficiency was the same for all excess air combustions, including the theoretical air combustion. It was also found that the results of the analytical and commercial computational fluid dynamics code compared well.
Another analysis was conducted of irreversibilities generated due to combustion in an adiabatic combustor burning wood. This was done for a reactant mixture varying from a rich to a lean mixture. A non-adiabatic non-premixed combustion model of a numerical code was used to simulate the combustion process where the solid fuel was modelled by using the ultimate analysis data. The entropy generation rates due to the combustion and frictional pressure drop processes were computed to eventually arrive at the irreversibilities generated. It was found that the entropy generation rate due to frictional pressure drop was negligible when compared with that due to combustion. It was also found that a minimum in irreversibilities generated was achieved when the air-fuel mass ratio was 4.9, which corresponded to an equivalent ratio of 1.64, which was lower than the respective air-fuel mass ratio and equivalent ratio for complete combustion with theoretical amount of air of 8.02 and 1.
Studieswere conducted to numerically analyse irreversibilities generated due to combustion in an adiabatic combustor burning wood. The first study analysed the effect of changing the incoming air temperature from 298 K to 400 K. The second study analysed the effect of changing the wall condition of the combustor from adiabatic to negative heat flux (that is heat leaving the system) for an incoming air temperature of 400 K. The irreversibilities generated in the combustor were calculated by computing the entropy generation rates due to the combustion, heat transfer and frictional pressure drop processes. For the first part of the study, it was found that for the minimum irreversibilities generated in the adiabatic combustor, the optimal air-fuel ratio (AF) corresponding to minimum irreversibilities slightly reduced from 4.9 to 4.8. In the second part of the study, it was found that by changing the wall condition from adiabatic to heat flux on the combustor, the AF corresponding to the minimum irreversibilities increased from 4.8 to 6. For the third part of the study, the combustor with a heat flux wall condition and a wall thickness simulated at an AF of 6, the sum of twice the wall thickness and the optimum diameter always added up to 0.32 m, resulting in the minimum irreversibilities.
An analytical model was developed to minimise the thermal resistance of an air-cooled porous matrix made up of solid spheres with internal heat generation. This was done under the assumption of LTE. It was found that the predicted optimum sphere diameter and the minimum thermal resistance were both robust in that they were independent of the heat generation rate of the solid spheres. Results from the analytical model were compared with those from a commercial numerical porous model using liquid water and air for the fluid phase, and wood and silica for the solid phase. The magnitudes of the minima of both the temperature difference and the thermal resistance seemed to be due to equal contribution from the thermal conduction heat transfer inside the solid spheres and heat transfer in the porous medium. Because the commercial numerical porous model modelled only the heat transfer occurring in the porous medium, it expectedly predicted half of the magnitudes of the minima of the temperature difference and thermal resistance of those by the analytical model.