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Defect and Diffusion Forum Vols. 273-276 (2008) pp 144-149 online at http://www.scientific.

net (2008) Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland Online available since 2008/Feb/11

Numerical Study of Propane-Air Mixture Combustion in a Burner Element C.E.L. Pinho1,a, J.M.P.Q. Delgado2,b, R. Pilo3,c, J. Conde1,d and C. Pinho2,e
INEGI Rua do Barroco, n 174; 4465-591 Lea do Balio, Portugal CEFT DEMEGI, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, s/n; 4200-465 Porto, Portugal 3 CIEA Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Rua Dr. Antnio Bernardino de Almeida n 341, 4200-072 Porto, Portugal
2 a 1

cpinho@inegi.up.pt, bjdelgado@fe.up.pt, crmp@isep.ipp.pt, djsantos@inegi.up.pt, ectp@fe.up.pt

Keywords: Heat transfer, Combustion, Turbulence, Computer Fluid Dynamics.

Abstract. This study considers numerical simulations of the combustion of propane with air, in a burner element due to high temperature and velocity gradients in the combustion chamber. The effects of equivalence ratio () and oxygen percentage () in the combustion air are investigated for different values of between 0.5 and 1.0 and between 10 and 30%. In each case, combustion is simulated for the fuel mass flow rate resulting in the same heat transfer rate (Q) to the combustion chamber. Numerical calculations are performed individually for all cases with the use of the Fluent CFD code. The results shown that the increase of equivalence ratio corresponds to a significantly decrease in the maximum reaction rates and the maximum temperature increase with the increases of oxygen percentage. Mixing hydrogen with propane causes considerable reduction in temperature levels and a consequent reduction of CO emissions. Introduction When early commercial CFD packages became available more than 20 years ago, simulating the complex physics inside combustion chambers was already one of the target applications. Of course, projects were often limited by computer resources these days [1,2]. Therefore in most cases reaction was taken into account using relatively simple approaches such as the Eddy Dissipation Model. Today, with increasing maturity of CFD technique and computing power, one focus in numerical simulation of combustion is in the area of non-equilibrium chemistry and multiphase flow. New fields of application, such as the formation of pollutants in technical flames or the optimization of combustion processes, can be tackled that way. Some of the elements contend by fuel form dangerous combustion products. The amount of these products is related with their percentage in the fuel. The complete combustion of the main elements of fuel increases the efficiency of the boiler. The construction of burner defines the combustion efficiency. Turbulent combustion of hydrocarbon fuels is an integral part of many segments of the chemical and power industries, and also in hot water boilers usually used as heating source for residences. Combustion phenomenon is a complex mixture of fluid dynamics and chemistry. The primary objectives in burner design are to increase combustion efficiency and to minimize the formation of environmentally hazardous emissions, such as CO, unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and NOx. Critical design factors that impact combustion include: the temperature and residence time in the combustion zone, the initial temperature of the combustion air, the amount of excess air and turbulence in the burner and the way in which the air and fuel streams are delivered and mixed. Therefore, CFD codes can serve as a powerful tool used to perform low cost parametric studies. The CDF codes solve the governing mass, momentum and energy equations in order to calculate the pressure, concentrations, velocities and temperatures fields. This work considers the combustion of propane with air due to the high temperature and velocity gradients in combustion chamber using a single burner element. In order to investigate the effect of
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oxygen percentage on the combustion, the combustion of fuel with air is examined at various oxygen percentages in the air by using Fluent CFD code [3]. Mathematical Model In this work we used the following models for the numerical calculations: (a) turbulent flow, with turbulent model of RNG k applied [4] with a standard wall functions for near wall treatment; (b) for the chemical species transport and reacting flow, the eddy-dissipation model with the diffusion energy source option. The following assumptions are made: (a) the flow is steady, turbulent and compressible; (b) the mixture (propane-air) is assumed as an ideal gas; (c) no-slip condition is assumed at the burner element walls. The governing equations for mass, momentum and energy conservation, respectively, for the two-dimensional steady flow of an incompressible Newtonian fluid are: Mass conservation equation

.( ui Yi ) = .J i + S i with
J i = (Di,m + t / Sc t )Yi

(1)

(2a)

and
Di,m =

Y / D
j

1 - Yi

(2b)

i, j

where is the density, u i is the fluid velocity, Yi is the local mass fraction, J i is the diffusion flux, S i is the rate of creation by chemical reaction, Di,m is the diffusion coefficient, t and Sc t are the turbulent viscosity and Schmidt number, respectively. Momentum conservation equation
.( u i u j ) = .P + . eff

(3)

with

eff = u + u T 2/3.u
where eff is the stress tensor, is the molecular viscosity and is the unit tensor. Energy conservation equation
.[u i ( E + P)] = . k eff .T with E = h P h j J j + u j eff + S h

(4)

(5)

u i2 2

(6)

where E is the energy, P is the pressure, k eff is the effective conductivity, S h is the source of energy and h is the sensible enthalpy. In this work, the combustion of propane with air is modelled with one-step reaction mechanism. The reaction mechanism takes place according to the constraints of chemistry and it is defined by

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Diffusion in Solids and Liquids III

C3H 8 +

O2 +

5 100

N 2 3CO 2 + 4H 2 O +

5 100

N2 + 5

O2

(7)

& & & & where ( = 5[M O2 + (100 ) / M N2 mfuel ] /( M fuel mair ) ) is the equivalence ratio and mfuel and mair are fuel and air mass flow rates, respectively and is the oxygen percentage in air. Computational Model A two-dimensional burner element (see Figure 1) was designed using Gambit package (v2.2.30, Fluent Inc). The skewness of the cells was improved in Gambit and using the grid refinement/adaptation procedure of the Fluent code it was refined. In the numerical calculation, two L= 0.5 m calculation models, a laminar flow model and a turbulent flow model, were used because the Reynolds numbers based on the hydraulic diameter and the flow velocity vary from 500 to 3000. Air r = 0.01 m For flows of Reynolds number below r = 0.01 m Propane r = 0.006 m r = 0.004m 1000, a steady laminar flow model was used. For Reynolds numbers over 1000, a turbulent model of RNG k was Figure 1 Scheme of the burner analysed. applied with a standard wall function for near wall treatment.
air out fuel wall

Geometry and Mesh Generation Grid generation represents a major challenge for CFD analysis. It is a time-consuming task and, in spite of steady advances in automatic mesh generation, it still requires the skill of a CFD practitioner to yield a suitable mesh. The choice of the type of grid depends on geometrical complexity and on physics. The skewness of the cells was improved in Gambit package and using the grid refinement/ /adaptation procedure of the Fluent code it was refined. The grid was smoothed using the swap/smooth options in both codes. Grid refinement was performed until further refinement showed no noticeable effects. The final unstructured grid that had 50000 cells was used in the simulation. Gas Flow Simulation For gas simulation a propane-air mixture was used with the following physical values: hamb = 20 W/m 2 K , Tin = Tamb = Tref = 300 K , P = 101325 Pa and air = 1.225 kg/m 3 and

C H = 1.91 kg/m3 at the air and fuel inlet, respectively. The thermal properties ( c p , and ) of the
3 8

propane and species are function of temperature. The propane density at the fuel inlet and the molecular weights, enthalpies and lower heating values of reactant and product species are taken from the material property database given by Fluent Inc. [3]. The ranges of the simulation values & are: Q = 10000W , = 0.5, 0.7, 1.0 and = 10%, 20%, 30% .
Fluent Modelling The Fluent modelling is based on the two-dimensional conservation equations for mass and momentum. The differential equations are discretised by the Finite Volume Method and are solved by the SIMPLE algorithm. As a turbulence model, the k was employed [4]. The Fluent code uses an unstructured non-uniform mesh, on which the conservation equations for mass, momentum and energy are discretised. The k model describes the turbulent kinetic energy and its dissipation rate and thus compromises between resolution of turbulent quantities and computational time. No-slip

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condition is assumed at the burner walls. The model constants for the RNG k model are C = 0.0845 , C1 = 1.42 , C 2 = 1.68 , and wall Prandtl number of 0.85. Grid independence/solution adaptive refinement While finer meshes would yield more accurate results, we were limited to this number of elements because of the computer speed and memory. However, doubling the total number of elements yielded less than 2% change in overall pressure drop and the solutions were considered basically grid-independent. The standard k model was used with non-equilibrium wall functions. Nonequilibrium wall functions were preferred to the standard wall functions because non-equilibrium wall functions are better to deal with complex flows involving separation, reattachment, other nonequilibrium effects and strong pressure gradients (see Fluent Users Guide [3]). Results and Discussion Numerical modelling of the burner element was performed at different stoichiometric mixture ratios and oxygen percentage in the air. Table 1 shows the inlet velocities of air and stoichiometric air/fuel ratios for Q = 10000 W and u fuel = 2.247 m/s , with Rsto and u air given by:

Rsto = 5

M O2 + (100 ) / M N2 M C3 H 8

(8) (9)

u air =

Rsto fuel Afuel u fuel air Aair

Table 1 Inlet velocities of air and stoichiometric air/fuel ratios, for Q = 10000 W . uair (m/s) = 0.7 40.312 20.439 13.814
0.05 0.04

(%)
10 20 30
0.05 0.04

Rsto 32.22 16.34 11.04


0.05 0.04

= 0.5
56.436 28.614 19.340

= 1.0
28.218 14.307 9.670

r (m)

r (m)

r (m)

0.03 0.02 0.01 0 0


0.4

0.03 0.02 0.01


0.2

0.03 0.02 0.01


0.2
0.1
1 0.0

0.2

0.1
0.005

0.01
0.05 0.01

0.0 05

0.2

0.05

1 0.0

0.05

0.05

( = 0.5 and = 10% )

x (m)

0.1

0.15

0.2

0.05

( = 1.0 and = 10% )

x (m)

0.1

0.15

0.2

0.05

( = 1.0 and = 30% )

x (m)

0.1

0.15

0.

0.005

00 5

0.2

Figure 2 Reaction rates contours for different equivalence ratios and oxygen percentage.

Figure 2 presents the distributions of reaction rates in the burner element for = 10% to 30% in the case of = 1.0 . The numerical results showed that the maximum reaction rates decrease significantly with the increase of equivalence ratios and with the increase of oxygen percentage in air, these regions contract in the axial direction whereas they expand in the radial direction. The maximum reaction rate profiles obtained were R = 1.14, 0.55 and 0.41 kmol/m3s in the cases of = 0.5 / = 10% , = 1.0 / = 10% and = 1.0 / = 30% , respectively. Figure 3 shows the temperature distribution in the burner element for the cases of = 10%, 20%, 30% and = 0.5, 1.0 . The numerical results illustrates an increase of temperature

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Diffusion in Solids and Liquids III

with both increases of and . The maximum temperature level was about 2701 K ( = 0.5 and = 30% ). The average temperatures of the burner element increased from 1322 to 2701 K and from 1251 to 2652 K in the cases of = 0.5 and = 1.0 , respectively, with the increase of from 10 to 30, i.e., the results shows that has more effect in temperature than . Temperature level is decreasing considerably from the maximum zone trough the burner exit.
0.05
500
700

0.05
600
800

0.05
1100

500

0.04

0.04 500

900

11 00

0.04
0 70

130 0

700

900

r (m)

r (m)

13

r (m)

0.03 0.02 0.01 0 0


10 0 130 1200 0 0
11 00

0.03 0.02
00 15

1500
17
19 0 2100 0 2500

0.03 0.02 0.01

00

00

90 0

0.01 0 0 0.1

1900 1700

2100

0.1

0.2

( = 0.5 and = 10% )


0.05
900

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.2

( = 0.5 and = 20% )


0.05
0.05
110 1300 0
700

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

2700

0.1

0.2

( = 0.5 and = 30% )


500 900 1300 700 1100
1700
2100 1900

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

500
800

500

0.04
600

900 1000
11 00

1500
1700

0.04

900

0.04

700

r (m)

r (m)

1900

r (m)

0.03 0.02 0.01


1240 1200

0.03 0.02 0.01


1990
1950

0.03 0.02 0.01


23 190 210 0 0 0 0 1700

2300
26 00

00 25

0.1

0.2

( = 1.0 and = 10% )

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.1

0.2

( = 1.0 and = 20% )

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

13 00

2650

0.1

0.2

( = 1.0 and = 30% )

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

Figure 3 Temperature distribution for = 0.5 and = 1.0 at different values of .


= 20%
2700 2300 1900

2100 1800

= 10% Series1 = 20% Series2 = 30% Series3

T (K)

T (K)
= 0.5 Series1 = 0.7 Series2 = 1.0 Series3 Series4 (50%H2+50%C3H8) = 1.0
0 0.1 0.2

1500 1200 900 600 300

1500 1100 700

= 0.5
300

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.1

0.2

x (m)

0.3

0.4

0.5

Figure 4 Axial temperature variation at different (a)-equivalence ratio and (b)-oxygen percentage. Figure 4 illustrates the axial temperature, along the axis of the burner, for different equivalence ratios and oxygen percentage in air, on propane combustion. In general, increasing the oxygen percentage increases the temperature. This trend is as expected and similar to the works developed by other authors [5,6]. Moreover, this computational fluid dynamics study also considered the combustion of hydrogen propane mixture fuel with 50%H2+50%C3H8. It is known [2] that hydrogen reduces the emission of some pollutants, pure hydrogen fuel combustion does not give CO or unburned HC emissions. Figure 4(a) shows that mixing hydrogen with propane causes considerable increase in temperature levels. The predicted maximum temperature level, for pure propane combustion with an equivalence ratio of 1.0 and an oxygen percentage in air of 20%, was about 1992 K, whereas the

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predicted temperature distributions for hydrogenpropane (50%H2+50%C3H8) mixture combustion, at the same conditions, showed a predicted high temperature of 2195 K. The overall flame temperature increases as hydrogen is added to the fuel due to the higher energy input and lower flame radiation. It must be stressed that although a higher combustors temperature will reduce CO and unburned HC emissions it will, on the other end, raise NO emissions through the thermal or Zeldovich mechanisms [7]. Conclusions The combustion of propane with air was analyzed in a burner element and the effect of the equivalence ratio and oxygen percentage in air investigated, for different numerical values. Combustion was simulated for the fuel mass flow rate resulting in the same heat transfer rate to the combustion chamber in each case. The results shown that the increase of equivalence ratio corresponds to a significantly decrease in the maximum reaction rates and the maximum temperature increase with the increases of oxygen percentage. Mixing hydrogen with propane causes considerable reduction in temperature levels and a consequent, expected, reduction of CO and unburned HC but higher NOx emissions are expected. Acknowledgment J.M.P.Q. Delgado wishes to thank FCT for the grant N SFRH/BPD/11639/2002. Notation A cp C C1 C2 Di,m E h Ji keff & m M P & Q R Area Constant-pressure specific heat Coefficient in k- turbulence model Coefficient in k- turbulence model Coefficient in k- turbulence model Molecular diffusion coefficient Energy Sensible enthalpy Diffusion flux of species Effective conductivity Mass flow rate Molecular weight of species Pressure Heat transfer rate Reaction rate Rsto Sct Sh Si T u Yi Stoichiometric air/fuel ratio Turbulent Schmidt number Source of energy Rate of creation by chemical reaction Temperature Velocity Local mass fraction of each specie Oxygen percentage in air Unit tensor Equivalence ratio Thermal conductivity Molecular viscosity Turbulent viscosity Density Stress tensor

t eff

References [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] G. Wecel and R.A. Biaecki: Combust. Sci. and Tech. Vol. 178 (2006), p. 1413 M. Ilbas, I. Ylmaz and Y. Kaplan: Int. J. Hydrogen Energ. Vol. 30 (2005), p. 1139 Fluent Incorporated: FLUENT Users guide version 6.2 (2005). V. Yakhot and S.A. Orszag: J. Sci. Comput. Vol. 1 (1986), p. 151 M. Ilbas: Int. J. Hydrogen Energ. Vol. 30 (2005), p. 1113 M. Ilbas: Studies of ultra low NOx burner (PhD thesis, Cardiff, University of Wales, 1997). S.R. Turns: An introduction to combustion - Concepts and application (McGraw Hill, Inc., New York, 1996).