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Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382

Simulation of xed bed regenerative heat exchangers for ue gas heat recovery
M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli

Chemical Engineering Department, Tarbiat Modarres University, P.O. Box 14115-143 Tehran, Iran Received 29 December 2002; accepted 4 August 2003

Abstract Fixed-bed regenerators are used to provide high temperature process gases in the glass and steel industries, in power plants and in waste heat recovery systems. In all these situations the temperature levels require the regenerator packing to be made from the low thermal conductivity materials such as ceramic. Simulation of the operation of xed bed heat exchangers must accommodate the heat transfer from the gas to the packing surface and the temperature distribution within the core of the ceramic spheres. Most of the mathematical models employed in theory and practice assume either that the internal thermal resistance to heat ow within the core is negligible, or that the resistance can be incorporated in a lumped convective heat transfer coecient at the surface. This investigation considers both approaches in the analysis of the experimental data obtained for a regenerator packed with alumina balls. Unifying theory and practice in this way allows the inuence of ow rate and periodicity of operation to be investigated free from the eect of misleading interactions. The dierence between the eectiveness results is rstly due to the experimental errors in the parameter measurements and secondly due to the heat losses from the main bed which has not been taken into account in the mathematical model. 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Simulation; Fixed bed regenerator; Experimental; Heat recovery

1. Introduction Regenerators are compact heat exchangers in which heat is alternately stored and removed using a heat storage matrix. During the heating period, the hot gas passes through the regenerator and transfers heat to the matrix. After a certain time (hot period), the hot gas ow stops and the

Corresponding author. Tel.: +98911-276-5690; fax:+98-21-800-6544. E-mail address: (S.M. Sadrameli).

1359-4311/$ - see front matter 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2003.08.005


M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382

Nomenclature A a Bi Cp d Fo g h j k L M m P p R r Re t T TF U u w x y Greek a b D q g K P l c f h heat transfer area, m2 heat transfer area per unit volume, m1 Biot number, hL=k specic heat capacity, J/kg K packing diameter, m Fourier number, aP =R gravity convective heat transfer coecient, W/m2 K Colburn j factor thermal conductivity, W/K m bed length, m solid mass, kg mass velocity, kg/m2 s period, s voidage packing radius, m radial direction Reynolds number gas temperature, K solid temperature, K solid surface temperature, K utilization factor interstitial velocity, m/s semi-thickness, m axial distance direction normal to the matrix surface letters diusivity coecient unbalanced factor, Umin =Umax dierence density, kg/m3 eectiveness, % reduced length reduced period viscosity, kg/m s asymmetry factor, Kmin =Kmax dimensionless time time, s

M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382


cold gas ow initiates, normally in the opposite direction to that of the hot gas. The cold gas picks up the heat stored in the matrix. Regenerators may be divided into two groups; xed-bed and rotary. In xed-bed regenerators the storage material is stationary and valves are employed to alternately direct the hot and cold gas streams through the storage material. Such systems have usage in the steel, glass making and gas turbine plants as waste heat recovery systems, particularly for the stack gases. Regenerators employed in the glass and aluminum industries are designed such that they can withstand entrance gas temperature of about 1400 C. At this level of temperature the matrix must be constructed from ceramic materials, which introduce conduction eects into the overall heat transfer in addition to the convection and radiation. This necessitates the prediction of an accurate value for the heat transfer coecient to accommodate the eects of all mechanisms of heat transfer. In order to have continuous operation, the installation must comprise at least two distinct matrix assemblies, or beds, so that at all period times one matrix is being heated while the other is being cooled. Theoretical performance of regenerators can be predicted by solving a set of partial dierential equations governing heat transfer between the two uid streams and the solid matrix. Based on the simplest mathematical model (Hausen [1]), the regenerator eectiveness is only dependent upon four dimensionless parameters. They can be used to determine the important independent variables as well as the design and performance of this type of equipment. These four dimensionless parameters which are evolved directly from the partial dierential equations of the xedbed regenerator are known as the dimensionless length, K, and utilization factor, U , of each period. The former represents the ratio of the potential heat transfer within the regenerator to the heat capacity of the owing gas stream, while the latter corresponds to the ratio of the total gas heat capacity of a period to the total matrix heat capacity, viz.  K haL mCpg  1

mCpg P qbs Cs L

Therefore the eectiveness for the hot and cold periods are a function of four parameters: gh ; gc fnKh ; Kc ; Uh ; Uc 3

The experimental apparatus is the one developed by Zarrinehkafsh [2]. It consists of a single-bed and is operated over a 30 C temperature range at just above ambient temperature to avoid changes in the uid and solid physical properties. Software had been developed previously for the automatic data logging in the symmetric-balanced system. Explicit techniques have been developed to analyze the experimental data for the regenerator operation. These allow the heat transfer coecients to be obtained in the regenerator. The intra-conduction eects in the symmetric-balanced systems have also been investigated with respect to the eectiveness. The comparison now can be made between the results for all modes of operation in the regenerator.


M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382

2. Mathematical model The intra-conduction mathematical model is based on the following simplifying assumptions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Constant uid and solid physical properties throughout the periods. Constant heat transfer coecient during the periods. Constant and uniform velocity prole in the uid phase. Constant uid mass ow rates. No heat dispersion in the uid. No radiation heat transfer in the system. No heat loss through and within the system. Solid thermal conductivity is zero parallel to the ow and nite in the normal direction.

The validity of the above assumptions depends upon the operating conditions of the particular regenerator system. The assumption of constant physical properties for the uid and the solid are only true over small temperature ranges and may be questionable over the low temperature range used in the cryogenic systems. Constant uid mass ow is justied for most regenerators, but not when by-pass and staggered parallel operation is used. Schmidt and Willmott [3] have discussed ow rate mal-distribution in a Cowper stove system. The assumption of zero thermal conductivity in the direction of ow is true in beds of spherical shaped packing, since here is only point contact between adjacent packing elements. Radiation heat transfer in the system is also negligible for the moderate temperature application. The last assumption represents the intra-conduction model and relates to a regenerator packed with nonmetallic and low conductivity solids. In this case the wall does not conduct well and is also rather thick. Therefore nite values of k (thermal conductivity in the direction normal to the ow) have to be considered. Because of the great length of these regenerators and also for spherical shaped packing which have only one contact point with each other, one may assume that the solid thermal conductivity in the direction of ow is zero. Unfortunately, an analytical solution is very dicult in a regenerator especially in this case which is more practical. Therefore approximate techniques will supplement or replace the analytical solutions. The computational methods provide the time-temperature history of the uid and solid, and eectiveness is simply calculated. However the computer programs, which neglect this eect, typically require approximately a sixth of the computing CPU time of those including it. Indeed, the quickest way to compute the rigorous intra-conduction calculations is by rst evaluating the innite conduction model to estimate a good starting guess and then cycle to equilibrium.

3. Dierential equations From the heat balance over a small element of regenerator (Dx) as shown in Fig. 1, for the Nusselt (III) [4] case, following equation was obtained for the uid phase, viz.   mCpg otg e otg oTs oTs 4 qs Cs 1 e ks A hATs tg Ax ox u oh oh oy

M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382


mh , P , thi h Cph , tho

A, , Ms , Cps ,Ts
mc , Cpc , tco m c , Pc , tci

Fig. 1. Fixed-bed regenerator ow passages.

When the internal resistance to heat transfer of the solid exists, the heat balance on the solid phase becomes: oTs 5 k s r2 T s oh Eq. (5) is coupled to the uid phase heat balance, Eq. (4), by the following boundary conditions: In the planer co-ordinates: qs Cs oTs 0 oh and ks oTs hTs ts oy at y w and 0 < x < L 7 at y 0 for 0 < x < L 6

In cylindrical and spherical co-ordinates: oTs 0 or ks at r 0 8 9

oTs hTs tg at r R or The initial conditions are: h0 h>0 then tg ts t0 at x 0 and tg ti

10 11

3.1. Dimensionless parameters Eqs. (4)(7) can be rearranged for the spherical geometry as:   oFs 2 oFs o2 Fs Fo 2 s os of os oFs BiFs fh os

12 13


M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382

oFs 0 os


s where s r=R, f h=P , and Fs tThitci . For this system, because A 4pR2 1 e=4pR3 =3 tci 31 e=P , then P 3 Bi Fo, where Fo aP =R2 and Bi hr=3k. Eq. (12) then can be rearranged for the spherical geometry as:

oFs For2 Fs of or in a general form as: oFs UA 2 r Fs n Bi of



Where n 1 for planar, 2 for the cylindrical and 3 for the spherical geometry. The eectiveness in this case is a function of six parameters as: gh ; gc fnKmin ; Umin ; c; b; Bih ; Bic 17

At rst glance it would be appeared that using the intra-conduction model requires a two parameters search. This can be avoided by noting that the Bi number can be dened in terms of other system parameters, as follows: Bi KU =3 Fo 18

where Fo aP =R2 . Thus for the symmetric-balanced intra-conduction model, the eectiveness is a function of three parameters as; g fnK; U ; KU =3 Fo The intra-conduction model reduces to the simplest Nusselt representation when Bi ! 0. 19

4. Numerical solution When the intra-conduction is involved in the simplest Nusselt (III) model the purely analytical solution is impossible and the solutions including numerical techniques are very complex. The model equations are solved on the 3-D grid using the nite dierence techniques. These are implicit backward dierence and the CrankNicolson [5] six point implicit schemes. The Crank Nicolson has a lower order of truncation error, and is used by Heggs [6] to solve the equivalent single-blow model. The numerical approximations are applied to the system of equations for the spherical shape packing. When this combined with central dierence approximation to the boundary conditions, they results a series of equation, given in matrix form. The system of equations is solved by the Gauss matrix inversion technique for tri-diagonal matrices [7]. Cyclic steady-state in this case is the same as for the simplest Nusselt (III) model.

M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382


5. Experiments The apparatus has been designed, constructed and commissioned by Zarrinehkafsh [2] as shown in Fig. 2. Air from the compressor passes through the oil lter and regulator to control the owrate. The test bed was packed by pouring the particles into the section which was continuously tapered. They were supported by two steel gauze disks, which are located on the both sides of the bed. The rig was insulated externally with 20 mm glass wool and also 30 mm ber glass blanket. The inlet and outlet air temperatures for the hot and cold periods are measured by two thermocouples located in the inlet and outlet of the main bed section. Air velocity is measured by an anemometer located at the air exit from the bed. The bed pressure drop is read from the U-shape manometer. For the symmetric and balanced case the same ow rate will be used in each period, while for the asymmetric and/or unbalanced operations a fth valve will be used to alter the ow rate through the bed. The direction of the air is controlled by four valves. For the hot period valves 4 and 1 are open and heater is ON, while other valves are closed. The reverse case is for the cold


pressure drop measurement



Electric Heater

3 Main bed Section 5

air from compressor Regulator Air Filter

Fig. 2. Schematic diagram of the experimental setup.


M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382

period when the heater is OFF. For the asymmetric-unbalanced case the ow rates is altered using valve 5 for the hot and cold periods. 5.1. Experimental procedure A series of 12 counter-current ow regenerator experiments have been conducted in symmetric00 balanced, and asymmetric-unbalanced modes of operation for a bed randomly packed with 1/2 alumina balls. Each run is specied with the run numbers which shows the mode of operation (SB for symmetric-balanced and ASUB for asymmetric-unbalanced) and period time used for the experiment in minutes. The physical properties and bed assemblies are listed in Table 1. The density of the packing was determined by volume displacement and the mean diameter by direct measurement. For each experimental investigation, the regenerator is operated until cyclic equilibrium is reached. The runs have been obtained for four dierent period times (5, 10, 15 and 20 min). The range of period time which is normally used in the industrial regenerator in the glass furnaces is 20 min. The thermal eectiveness is calculated at the end of each cycle by the measured inlet and outlet temperatures. Cyclic equilibrium is deemed to have been reached when the effectiveness of two successive cycles dier by less than a predetermined limit. The air ow rate is measured by an anemometer installed in the stack for the air exit. The physical properties of the gas were evaluated from the correlations obtained from the literature for dry air. For each completed experiment, the measurements and calculations provide the data for the evaluation of the experimental eectiveness and the utilization factor. For the calculation of K, the correlation obtained by Sadrameli [8] were used as follows: pjh 0:1415 Re0:2459 m 20

The experimental values of K and U then were used o-line to nd the theoretical eectiveness using the intra-conduction mathematical model.

Table 1 Bed and particle physical properties Physical properties Particles Mass Diameter Heat capacity Density Thermal conductivity Voidage Bed Diameter Length Area per unit volume Alumina 1/2 4.760 kg 0.0127 m 790 J/kg K 1400 kg/m3 5.0 W/m K 0.45 0.15 m 0.35 m 314 m1

M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382


6. Results and discussion The results of the symmetric-balanced and asymmetric-unbalanced experimental runs are listed in Table 2. For each air ow rate, dierent periods were investigated, and the period duration is in minutes, which is shown in the run number for each run, i.e. SB1.20, the 20 is the period in minutes. The values of reduced lengths, reduced periods, utilization factors, and an averaged eectiveness for the hot and cold periods calculated from the intra-conduction mathematical model are listed in Table 2. For each ow rate, the eectiveness falls as period time increases, or as the utilization factor becomes larger. Fig. 3 illustrates the periodicity eects on the regenerator eectiveness for each mass velocity. By decreasing the period duration the heat capacity of the matrix per period increases which causes an increase in the eectiveness. As shown in Fig. 3 the regenerator eciency decreases with increasing ow rate but the variation is not too sharp since the magnitude of ow rate variation is very small. The last two rows in Table 2 are for the asymmetric-unbalanced regenerator which show that the unbalance mode of operation is more ecient than the balanced case. The results also prove that for the unbalance eciency increases
Table 2 Experimental results of the symmetric-balanced and asymmetric-unbalanced runs Run no. SB1.5 SB2.5 SB3.5 SB4.5 SB1.10 SB2.10 SB3.10 SB4.10 SB1.15 SB1.20 ASUB.5 ASUB10 g exp% 69.00 65.40 64.50 65.40 63.60 58.00 53.50 58.00 47.20 36.70 76.60 84.20 K (hot) 20.2 18.0 16.98 18.05 20.20 18.05 16.98 18.05 18.05 18.05 16.95 16.02 K (cold) 20.2 18.0 16.97 18.06 20.20 18.06 16.97 18.06 18.06 18.05 18.08 16.06 P (hot) 14.6 17.0 18.5 16.95 29.20 33.97 36.96 33.98 50.89 67.68 18.39 39.20 P (cold) 14.8 17.0 18.5 16.95 29.24 34.00 37.00 34.05 50.90 68.00 17.19 19.93 U (hot) 0.722 0.945 1.090 0.940 1.45 1.89 2.2 1.89 2.82 3.78 1.085 2.45 U (cold) 0.722 0.945 1.090 0.940 1.45 1.90 2.2 1.90 2.82 3.80 0.951 1.24 g theory 71.5 66.1 66.2 67.5 66.93 61.50 55.45 62.47 48.70 38.50 80.56 86.00

Fig. 3. Eects of period and mass velocity on the regenerator eectiveness.


M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, S.M. Sadrameli / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 373382

as unbalance factor decreases as expected from the theory (g 84:2% for b 0:5 and 76.6% for b 0:87). The eciency also increases with using more compact regenerator with smaller size packing. The experimental setup can be used further for the prediction of heat recovery performance from the wasted ue gases from the furnace.

7. Conclusions A mathematical model has been developed to investigate the performance of a xed bed regenerator. The model accommodates for the convection and conduction heat transfer inside the ceramic balls. An experimental setup has been developed for the data collection. The dierence between the theoretical and experimental eectiveness results is due to the experimental errors in measurement and also the selected model. Further investigation would be required to develop and solve an accurate mathematical model in which all mechanisms of heat transfer are accommodated. The materials of the paper have been presented in ISTP12 conference [9].

Acknowledgements The rst author thanks the research and development department of Tarbiat Modarres University for the nancial support. The work was carried out in the department of Chemical Engineering of Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran.

[1] H. Hausen, Heat Transfer in Counter Flow, Parallel Flow and Cross Flow, McGraw Hill, New York, 1983. [2] M.T. Zarrinehkafsh, Design and construction of a xed bed regenerator for heat recovery, M.Sc. Thesis, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran, 1999. [3] F.W. Schmidt, A.J. Willmott, Thermal Energy Storage and Regeneration, Hemisphere Pub. Corp., 1981. [4] W. Nusselt, Die theorie des widerhitzers, Z. Ver. Deut. Ing. 71 (1927) 85 (R.E.A. Library Trans. No. 269, The theory of Preheaters). [5] J. Crack, P. Nicolson, A practical method for numerical evaluation of partial dierential equations of the heat conduction type, Proc. Comb. Phil. Soc. Math. Phys. Sci., 1947, p. 43. [6] P.J. Heggs, Transfer processes in packing used in thermal regenerators, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Leeds, 1967. [7] M. Golshani, Modeling and simulation of a xed bed regenerator for heat recovery from aluminum furnaces, M.Sc. Thesis, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran, 1999. [8] Sadrameli, P.J. Heggs, Heat transfer calculations in asymmetric and unbalanced regenerators, Iranian J. Sci. Technol. Trans. B 22 (1) (1998) 7794. [9] M. Sadrameli, M.T. Zarrinekafsh, Modeling and Simulation of a Fixed Bed Regenerative Heat Exchanger for Flue Gas heat Recovery, ISTP12, Istanbul, Turkey, 2000.